Books Reviews

DIVORCE IS MURDER – Elka Ray

I’m really excited about the new Elka Ray out August 20th. A couple of years back I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of her Saigon Dark which was a gripping, classic noir with a really modern, domestic theme. So fingers crossed this one is just as good.

I got the blurb today to share with you and once I get a AC of Divorce is Murder, I’ll let you know what I think.

So here’s what we know so far…..

DIVORCE IS MURDER

A Toby Wong Novel

 

Toby Wong visits her quiet hometown in British Columbia, where nothing ever happens–until her old high school rival is found murdered.

Shortly after returning to her sleepy hometown on Vancouver Island, Chinese-Canadian divorce lawyer Toby Wong runs into Josh Barton, who broke her heart as a teen at summer camp. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Josh wants to divorce Tonya, the mean girl who made Toby’s life hell all those years ago. Not long after Toby takes Josh’s case, Tonya is found murdered. Josh is the prime suspect.

Together with her fortune-teller mom and her pregnant best friend, Toby sets out to clear Josh, whom she still has a guilty crush on. While he seems equally smitten, can Toby trust him? The handsome cop charged with finding Tonya’s killer doesn’t think so.

Since Tonya stayed in touch with everyone from that lousy summer camp, Toby keeps running into ex-campers she’d rather forget. Could one of Tonya’s catty friends be her killer?

Are Toby’s old insecurities making her paranoid? Only too late does she realize that she really is in danger.

 

DIVORCE IS MURDER

Seventh Street Books — August 20, 2019

 

The Scandal – Nicola Marsh

My life is like one of those cheap snow globes my twins collected when they were younger. Shiny and pretty on the outside, blurred beyond recognition when shaken.

Ever since her twin girls left home, Marisa has felt there’s something missing from her life. Her sprawling mansion is no longer filled with laughter and chaos, and she’s desperate to feel needed… and to be distracted from the secret she’s been hiding from her husband for all these years.

Coffee with her best friends might be the only thing holding Marisa together. But Claire and Elly have their own secrets. Like why Claire hasn’t been to work in weeks, or why Elly won’t tell anyone who’s buying her flowers.

When Jodi, a pregnant young girl, turns up at Marisa’s doorstep, Marisa is quick to come to her aid. She sees herself in Jodi and she knows how devoting yourself to looking after others can take up all your time in the most marvellous way.

But Jodi’s arrival quickly pushes everyone’s lies to the surface. The father of her unborn child is someone the women know very well, and Marisa starts to wonder if her obsession with helping Jodi might come at a devastating price…

 

Review

 

One night during a gossipy – very Witches of Eastwick-esque girlie get together at a house in the Hamptons, the doorbell goes and a pregnant girl faints on the doorstep. She’s the catalyst in the story ensuring a wide range of secrets and lies will need to bubble to the surface before anyone finds out – who the father is!

But this isn’t just a gossip book – it’s a proper thriller too as the characters come out of their shells and start to reveal their true natures and as things take a more sinister turn.

To be honest, this isn’t my usual read but it did keep me turning pages to the very end. And I  didn’t see the end coming. A proper small-town noir thriller.

Thank you Netgalley and Bookouture for the Advanced Copy

Something Fishy – Lois Schmitt

The Blurb

When attorney Samuel (Sam) Wong goes missing, wildlife magazine reporter Kristy Farrell believes the disappearance is tied to her latest story concerning twenty acres of prime beachfront that the Clam Shell Cove Aquarium hopes to purchase. Sam works for multi-millionaire land developer Lucien Moray who wants to buy the property for an upscale condominium. The waterfront community is divided on this issue like the Hatfields and McCoys, with environmentalists siding with the aquarium and local business owners lining up behind Moray. Meanwhile, a body is found in a nearby inlet. Kristy, aided by her veterinarian daughter, investigates and discovers deep secrets among the aquarium staff—secrets that points to one of them as the killer. Soon the aquarium is plagued with accidents, Kristy has a near death encounter with a nine foot bull shark, and a second murder occurs. But ferreting out the murderer and discovering the story behind Sam’s disappearance aren’t Kristy’s only challenges. When her widowed, septuagenarian mother announces her engagement, Kristy suspects her mom’s soon to be husband is not all he appears to be. As Kristy tries to find the truth before her mother ties the knot, she also races the clock to find the aquarium killer before this killer strikes again.

The Review

This aquarium themed murder mystery thriller is definitely different. Cosy in a way only a US murder-mystery can be. The story is written very economically, without much frill but I felt this kept it moving along at a good pace. But despise its frivolity, at its heart it’s a proper whodunit with the net (pardon the pun) tightening around the suspicious character that we’ve all grown to love to hate. A very good read. And an awesome cover by the way.

Thank you Netgalley and Encircle Publications for the Advance Copy.

Something Fishy

by Lois Schmitt

Encircle Publications LLC

You Can’t Hide – Steve Parker

Cheeky Cockney Johnny Clocks turns up at JFK with a psychopath to find. He already sounds like a nasty piece of work, mean to kids – and it gets worse – so although Clocks originally intends to do things the right way, all above board, things get tangled and he ends up doing it his own way.

Review

Now bearing in mind, I haven’t read any of the other stories in the series, so perhaps that was a mistake on my part, but when I first started reading I wasn’t sure if it was a parody-thriller book. The scene setting is a little mundane, with Clocks’ trip through JFK Arrivals meticulously detailed including the ‘hell of luggage claim’ as if it were something much more interesting and as if this guy hadn’t seen things which were much more hellish, then almost a page of description on the female co-villain’s attractive-but-not-that-attractive appearance leaving me with the image of a young woman in mom-jeans in my mind, but you know what, after all this was out of the way, I really got into the story and decided it wasn’t meant to be a piss-take. It’s a bloke book – written by a bloke and that in itself has real charm. Looking back at the parts which wrangled me, I thought nah – that works, this guy can stand over bleeding bodies and still consider the business of ‘a nightmare’ he’s that sort of blokey guy who uses the same words to describe the M25.

So in the end, I really enjoyed the read – a fast paced thriller which you can finish in a trip from Gatwick to JFK.

Thank you to Netgalley and Joffe Books for the Advanced Copy.

YOU CAN’T HIDE

by STEVE PARKER

Joffe Books

Bound for Murder – Victoria Gilbert

Description

Blue Ridge library director Amy Webber learns it wasn’t all peace and love among the “flower children” when a corpse is unearthed on the grounds of a 1960s commune.

Taylorsford Public Library director Amy Webber’s friend “Sunny” Fields is running for mayor. But nothing puts a damper on a campaign like an actual skeleton in a candidate’s closet. Sunny’s grandparents ran a commune back in the 1960s on their organic farm. But these former hippies face criminal charges when human remains are found in their fields–and a forensic examination reveals that the death was neither natural nor accidental.

With Sunny’s mayoral hopes fading, Amy sets her wedding plans aside, says “not yet” to the dress, and uses her research skills to clear her best friend’s family. Any of the now-elderly commune members could have been the culprit. As former hippies perish one by one, Amy and her friends Richard, Aunt Lydia, and Hugh Chen pursue every lead. But if Amy can’t find whoever killed these “flower children,” someone may soon be placing flowers on her grave.

Review

I was really happily surprised by this find – it’s not the usual sort of crime I’d read, being not very gritty but also not the traditional cozy crime genre variety either. Instead it’s a lovely story, full of imagery and southern charm and a good dose of modern realism and social commentary too. The story runs along the lines of… what would you do if the metaphorical ‘skeleton in the closet’ was really a historic murder that could sink your friend’s political career? Amy Webber uses real investigatory skills – well, she is a librarian – to put together a case to prove her friend’s innocence and along the way learns and gets more than she bargained for. I really liked the fact that this was real detection and inquiry, not just physical forensic. A welcome relief when I was after some light reading.

The only thing I didn’t love was the cover. The image is too fussy and the font doesn’t suit it.

Thank you Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the Advance Copy

Bound for Murder

A Blue Ridge Library Mystery

by Victoria Gilbert

 

 

The Art of Deception by Louise Mangos

Okay, I often find it funny how the crime fiction publishers choose to market a book – basically to reach as many readers as possible (hey, no complaints there), but this often leads to a description which just doesn’t do the book justice. This is certainly the case with The Art of Deception by Louise Mangos.

So here’s the blurb:

Art college dropout Lucie arrives in a Swiss ski resort looking for work – but instead finds Mathieu.

Handsome, charismatic and from a good family, Matt seems like the perfect man. But as Lucie soon discovers, he has a dark side – one that will drive their relationship to a dramatic conclusion, and tear the life she has built for herself and their son apart.

Left fighting for her freedom in a foreign prison, and starting to lose her grip on reality, Lucie must summon all of her strength to uncover the truth and be reunited with her son before it’s too late.

The clock is ticking . . . but who can she trust?

Honestly – that sounds like a typical run of the mill crime fiction title which so many writers are churning out faster than you can say, “Should we make the title yellow or orange?” But this book is much better than that.

First of all, it’s two stories in one – the experiences of a young mum in a foreign prison, her day to day incidents and the drama between the inmates she’s doing time with. This is the story in which we find out ‘the truth’, however, when we first start reading, it’s the back story which is the most riveting – that of a teenager meeting a dangerously handsome ski instructor (yes that’s a bit Mills and Boony) and the minutiae and drama of their everyday domesticity.

Yes, this kind of split time is nothing new, but the way Louise Mangos handles it is well thought out and brilliantly paced. Through the most innocent of prison activities the protagonist Lucie finds out a significant secret (no spoilers) which could change her destiny.

As Lucie is in prison and is reflecting on what got her put away, it may seem obvious that she will (must!) find a way out – but this could have been easily (and disappointingly) accomplished by bringing in a new inmate to provide the details (as they tend to do in Orange is the New Black). But let’s just say – that doesn’t happen.

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The end result is a very satisfying crime fiction read, which ties up all the strings and doesn’t offer a fashionably explosive ending. Now, if it said that in the blurb, not many people would pick up the book. Everyone’s looking for a page-turner. But if you speed-read this book, skipping descriptions to get to the dialogue, you’ll be missing out. The pleasure of this crime novel is that it’s a real story (not true obvs) but it reads like a considered work, well researched, written by an author with respect for her characters. I really enjoyed it.

The Art of Deception is out 6th June 2019 with HQ Digital

Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game by Matt Ferraz

While we’ve become quite use to ‘reimaginings’ in literature – especially in the classics, we very rarely get an honest to goodness reimagining mash-up, and even when we do, the mashing stays safely within one genre… It makes you wonder… can it be done any differently? Well, I guess Matt Ferraz had the same idea, because that’s exactly what he has accomplished with his work – Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game. Below, I’m really happy to be able to share with you the book blurb and a guest post from Matt about his experiences writing Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game.

The Blurb

Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game 1600x2400 (Ebook)

British sleuth Sherlock Holmes can solve any mystery from a small clue. American traveler Pollyanna Whittier can only see the good side of every situation. The only thing they have in common is their friendship with Dr. John Watson. When Pollyanna shows up in London with a mystery for Holmes to solve, she decides to teach the detective the Glad Game: a way of remaining optimistic no matter what. A dangerous – and hilarious – clash of minds, where these two characters of classic literature need to learn how to work together in order to catch a dangerous criminal.

 

Guest Post by Matt Ferraz

 Writing Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game

The genesis of Sherlock Holmes and the Glad Game was a challenge I made to myself: pick two public domain characters that apparently have nothing to do with each other, and somehow make them work together. I’ve been a Sherlockian all my life, and wanted to write a book with the detective for some time. But who could I match him with? Other writers already crossed Holmes Jack the Ripper, Mr Hyde, Captain Nemo and so many others. What could I bring to the table that was new and fresh?

 I was at a bookshop in my home town when I saw brand new editions of Pollyanna and Pollyanna Grows Up, by Eleanor H. Porter. Those were books I had never read, but knew the basic premise: a girl who always sees the bright side of everything no matter what. I had seen the 1920 movie with Mary Pickford, one of my favourite actresses, but remembered little of it. So I bought copies of those two books, and while reading them, a novel started to form in my mind.

No one had ever had the idea of putting Holmes and Pollyanna Whittier in the same story. After all, they’re so different! But my mind was made up: I was going to write a book where Pollyanna comes to London and assists Holmes and Watson in an investigation.

The one month first draft

People didn’t believe I could pull it off. In fact, my fiancée thought it was a crazy idea to begin with, but decided to give me the benefit of doubt. I wrote the first draft of this book in a month – faster than I had ever worked before! For that whole month, I was completely immersed in the story, having re-watched several Holmes movies for inspiration and re-reading big sections of Porter’s books.

 My idea wasn’t simply to have Pollyanna ringing at 221b Baker Street offering a case for the detective to solve. I wanted to fit her in the Holmes canon as organically as possible. My book starts with Pollyanna becoming a good friend of Dr. and Mrs. Watson while Holmes was considered to be dead after facing Professor Moriarty.

Bringing the two together

 Pollyanna is in London to see a special doctor due to an injury she suffered in her childhood – which is shown in the first Porter book. She eventually returns to America, but shows up in London two years later, when Holmes is already back from the dead, with a brand new husband and a lot of trouble on her back.

The best part of writing this story were the comedic possibilities in the interaction between these characters. I tried to avoid making Pollyanna too annoying and naive – she’s actually pretty smart and kicks a few butts. It was also nice to create a more humane Holmes, different from the stubborn and arrogant versions we’ve seen in movie and TV in the past few years. It’s a little, quirky and funny book I’m very proud of.

Signing off, Matt.

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If you want to learn more, you can contact Matt on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter: @Matt_Ferraz

Click the links to go to his Amazon and Goodreads pages.

Gritty Mid Western Crime Fiction: Robb T. White

I came across a couple of titles this week that had slipped my attention. These two books from Robb T. White are full of red-blooded anti-hero protagonists, the kind good old fashioned pulp fiction loves and my own Lilly Lessard would run into.

The first book, Dangerous Women was brought out by Class Act Books. Here’s the blurb:

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Violence, they often say, is a male prerogative. But someone forgot to tell women like “Baby” Frontanetta in the first story of the collection, or Francie, for whom robbing an armored car isn’t that big a deal, if only her lover will “man up” to assist her. Even parricide isn’t beyond the pale for her. There are the twins Bella and Donna, aptly named, as the narrator of “the Birthmark” will discover. There’s semi-literate Bobbie from West Virginia, a gorgeous lap dancer in a sleazy club in Cleveland, who knows what price men will put on owning beauty like hers. Come meet them all—the hustlers, con artists, thieves, and all-around trouble-makers; you’ll see what the women in these pages are capable of—but beware: they are not your mother’s “ladies.”

 

 

The second is Perfect Killer.

UntitledJade Hui is an FBI agent on the way down – until, that is, her supervising agent assigns her a triple-murder investigation. She soon must overcome bureaucratic obstacles to catch a free-roaming, amoral killer who leaves neither pattern nor motive in his wake. Her suspect is not a typical spree killer or psychotic fantasy killer. Born into wealth and privilege, gifted with great intelligence and strength, Charles Wöissell has his own reasons for travelling across America selecting victims. Wöissell intends to burn every bridge left – home, family, safety – for revenge against the one woman who has put herself in his path.

 

 

Isn’t it great when you find a new/old good book!

Robb T. White will be dropping by next week to give us an insight into his inspiration and some tips on getting a book (or two) finished.

Introducing… Citizen Kill

Stephen Clark’s debut novel, Citizen Kill, is coming out July 4th 2017 and he’s been kind enough to give me a sneak-peak of the book.

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In a not-too-alternative-present, Citizen Kill tells the story of how a new administration reboots the War on Terror after the president’s young son is killed in an explosion. A CIA program targeting U.S. citizens suspected of radicalizing Muslims, has more than just re-education in mind. In this version of events, these people are presumed guilty as soon as flagged and to save any doubt, approved for assassination.

CIA black-ops agent Justin Raines is among the recruits in the new program, but haunted by a botched assignment overseas, Justin has a developed a healthy scepticism for authority and the new administration. And when one of his targets, turns out to be respected educator, who he believes is innocent, he grows disillusioned. Justin knows, if he doesn’t find a way to prove, beyond a doubt, her innocence, he’ll still be expected to eliminate her. And if he doesn’t, they will both be assassinated.

“Washington stops at nothing to protect the nation from terrorists, while Justin Raines risks everything to protect the nation from Washington.”

Check it out on Goodreads here

http://stephenclarkbooks.com

30492f_b6a0fbd90ae047a481eb9df6567d62cf~mv2.jpgStephen Clark is a former award-winning journalist who served as a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times and as a politics editor for the Washington, D.C. bureau of FoxNews.com.

As a reporter for the Utica Observer-Dispatch, he won a New York Newspaper Publishers Association Award of Distinguished Community Service for his investigation into the financial struggles of nonprofit services.

 

Yippee! Free on Kindle. A Burning in The Darkness

Get your free kindle edition here

A Burning in The Darkness by A P McGrath

‘Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.’

Michael immediately recognised the voice. ‘What do you wish to confess?’

‘She won’t be waiting for you.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘I’m truly sorry,’ the penitent whispered, his voice breaking with remorse. ‘This was commanded. I was angry with her. I was angry with you. I’m begging God’s forgiveness.’

‘What have you done?’        

‘The worst thing…’

Smaller cover McGrath_DRAFT2 #2 Smaller Size (1)Michael Kieh is a faith rep in one of the world’s busiest airports. His own experiences during the Liberian civil war compel him to help those in need, but he becomes embroiled in a gruesome murder mystery his own compassion will make him a suspect.

His struggle to prove his innocence will lead him on a charged journey that pitches love against revenge. He’s innocent, he must be innocent….But is there something about Michael we don’t yet know?

A Burning in the Darkness is available for free download on Amazon from June 12th – June 17th 2017.

Get your free kindle edition here