Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bloody Mary-Life is never easy for Jack Daniels

Bloody Mary by J.A. KonrathLife is never easy for Jack Daniels and in this second book in the series, it just gets a little weirder.

I like this series. It's hard to describe why. It's much bloodier than a cozy, which is what I usually read and yet, it's light. It is somewhat reminiscent of Stephanie Plum and yet quite different. It's a police procedural with humour. It's a bit of a whodunit but this particular book tells you whodunit about halfway through. Jack's personal life plays in very heavily. Even writing about it sounds like a jumble of discordant elements and yet, for me, it works really well. I should just stop trying to compartmentalize it.

Jack is once again on the track of a killer that seems to be taunting her personally.  When her handcuffs turn up on a victim, it's definitely personal.  But as in the first book, Whisky Sour, it's not just her professional life that's giving her fits.  Her personal life has taken a strange turn.  Jack finds out that her mother is sick and brings her to Chicago so she can keep an eye on her. Her mother's name happens to be Mary and she happens to be an ex-cop.   I think any time you put an adult character's mother into the mix, you're going to come out with something interesting.

Just two books in and I'm already feel like I know Jack well. Even though it's bloodier than I care for, I'll be starting the next one in the series right away.

More about J.A. Konrath 

Other Jack Daniels books reviewed 
Whisky Sour
Rusty Nail

Would I pay money for it?Yes

Would I read more by this author? Yes I will
Would I recommend this to a friend? Depends on their level of tolerance for graphic violence

Purchased as a Kindle freebie February 9, 2013

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whiskey Sour-And so we meet Jack Daniels

Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath This is the first Jack Daniels novel I've read and my first by J.A. Konrath. The author says that you don't have to read them in order, they are each written to be stand-alone but if you want to read them in the author's recommended order, you can find it here. I'm one of those people that doesn't like to run willy-nilly through a series so I'll be reading them in order. 

Jack Daniels is a lieutenant with the Chicago PD. Her love interest has just left her so her personal life is a mess.  She's chasing down a serial killer called the Gingerbread Man who's  taunting the police and Jack so her professional life is rather messy also.  The story goes back and forth between her point of view and the killer's.  I'm not normally a fan of alternating view points but it didn't bother me too much in this book.

I very much enjoyed the style of writing, the humour, the mystery and the detective work, but it was more graphic than I normally like so consider that if you care about that kind of thing. It wasn't enough to put me off from the series which I will definitely continue to read.

I'm familiar with Chicago so I enjoyed the talk about the scenery and geography. I was able to see the action pretty clearly. I've already read the next one in the series and look forward to the rest of them.

More about J.A. Konrath 

Would I pay money for it?Yes
Would I read more by this author? I already have and plan on reading more
Would I recommend this to a friend? Depends on their level of tolerance for graphic violence

Purchased as a Kindle freebie February 28, 2013

Friday, July 25, 2014

Maids of Misfortune-Just what a mystery lover wants

Maids of Misfortune by M. Louisa Locke
I knew as soon as I started this book that I was going to love it and I was right. A strong female heroine set in the Victorian era with a clever mystery is a recipe for success.

Annie Fuller is a widow who escaped a stifling marriage when her husband committed suicide. She moved from New York to San Francisco where she inherited a house and is now a respectable businesswoman running her own boardinghouse. Her side job as Sybil the Clairvoyant is known only to a few trusted household employees.

When one of her customers dies and it is declared to be suicide, she knows better and decides to prove it. Along the way she meets a handsome lawyer, learns what it's like to be a domestic in the Victorian era and foils an old acquaintance who wants to take everything she has.

The mystery is clever but not overly taxing to figure out. There is some romance but it doesn't overpower the mystery. The Victorian setting adds the perfect touches to the story. I absolutely loved the ending.

This author knows what a mystery reader wants to read. I've already purchased the next book in the series and am excited to read it. I know for me this series will be like comfort food, something I'll return to again and again. 

More about M. Louisa Locke

Would I pay money for it? I've already bought the next one in the series
Would I read more by this author? Yes and I'm planning to
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes, definitely

Purchased as a Kindle freebie December 28, 2012

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Portrait of a Murder-I'm excited about this one!

Portrait of a Murder by Kerry J. Charles

I read a lot of Kindle Freebies, mostly mysteries and boy, is it taking your reading life into your hands to plunge into some of these but I have to say that I’m pretty excited about this particular one.  Portrait of a Murder is the first in a series that could become a real favorite of mine.

The story is set in Maine, a state I’ve never been to but would love to visit.  The setting is well described and I felt the atmosphere of the ocean side from the beginning.  Atmosphere is important to me.  I could feel the sun and the spray from the waves and I could smell the salt water.  I love that!  Also, the main character is described in the very first few pages in enough detail that there was never any doubt who she was or what she looked like.  I was comfortable with her right from the start. 

Dulcie is the curator at an art museum that is attempting to get a set of Homer Winslow paintings that cover each major location in his repertoire.  They are having a grand opening of the Winslow exhibit as a way to raise funds for the last painting they need which is going on sale the next week in New York.  The museum’s major patron is willing to kick in whatever is needed to cover the cost beyond what they have raised if he can be the one to go to the auction which Dulcie is happy to agree to.  Of course, murder follows and Dulcie gets involved.  Pretty much standard in a cozy mystery.

What isn’t as standard is that this cozy mystery actually feels like it was written thoughtfully and for adults.  As the cozy genre has exploded, all manor of silliness and goofiness can be found as in my review here but this book has avoided most of that while still being fun and interesting.  The heroine never does anything TSTL.  The police actually do the police work.  Dulcie doesn’t interfere with the police, instead she actually brings every clue she finds to them and never withholds any evidence. The police are not seen as bumbling idiots but as professionals doing a great job with the help of the citizens.  The romantic overtones are there but do not take over the story and everyone involved actually feels like a rational adult.  Maybe for some that sounds boring but to me it is a breath of fresh air in a field where it seems anything with an amateur sleuth and a dead body is touted as a masterpiece.  My only “hmmm” moment was when Dulcie found a payphone on the waterfront.  I can honestly say that I think that is almost an impossibility in this day and age.  The loose ends felt like they were tied up a little too easily at the end but all in all, thank you for treating cozy mystery readers like we have a brain and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series.

Would I pay money for it? Absolutely
Would I read more by this author? Yes and I'm planning to
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes, any of my mystery loving friends

Purchased as a Kindle freebie April 14, 2014

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Nothing Personal by Sherry Gorman-The dark side of medical practice

It's Nothing Personal by Shery Gorman As a fan of Robin Cook, medical thrillers are a genre I've always enjoyed and It's Nothing Personal is a medical-legal thriller that kept me interested all the way to the end.There's more legal in it than I necessarily need but hey, that's just me.  It's the story of an anesthesiologist who is being sued for giving a patient Hep C because a drug-addicted tech in the OR stole some drugs and replaced them with drugs in dirty needles. Interesting and timely premise. Having had surgery shortly before I read this, it certainly makes one think.

I believe this is the first novel from this author and it shows a lot of promise. I found the characters to be well-drawn and easy to relate to. I like seeing families that aren't completely dysfunctional.

There were a few passages that were overly technical on either the legal or medical side. There was a little too much crying. There was a little too much back-and-forth over whether this would go to trial or settle. All that aside, I did find myself wanting to find out what happens next and I read this in two sittings. It was a pleasurable read and I'll be looking forward to more from this author.

More about Sherry Gorman

Would I pay money for it? A reasonable amount
Would I read more by this author? Yes
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes

Purchased as a Kindle freebie May 24, 2013

Monday, July 21, 2014

Death Comes to Town-Like eating cotton candy

Death Comes to Town by K.J. Emrick

Reading Death Comes to Town reminds me of being  in the kiddie pool with my granddaughters. Yes, it’s cool water on a hot summer day and that’s nice but boy, there’s not much to it. If someone asks you if you were at the pool today you’re probably going to say “just barely.”

Death Comes to Town is the story of Darcy who inherited her aunt’s house and bookstore and apparently her ghost in some unnamed northern state. Her sister Grace and Grace’s husband also live in Misty Hollow and Grace is a detective on the police force. One of Darcy’s close friends and members of her book club is murdered. When Darcy and her ex-husband begin to look into it, another murder follows.

Things that made me go “hmmm.” At one point it is mentioned that because Misty Hollow is a small town and you can walk across it in 15 minutes, there aren’t many cars in town. In my experience living in small towns, EVERYONE owns a car, precisely because the town is so small. You have to go somewhere else to do most of your shopping or for any kind of entertainment. Also, the book “And Then There Were None” is brought up by the ghost several times making me think that there could be some real potential for Agatha Christie’s classic plot to have some relevance to the mystery at hand. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

All pretense of reality in the murder investigation is given up in this book. Even though Darcy is a civilian, her sister and her sister’s partner Jon include her in every phase of the investigation. She and Jon stay up late together one night working on the case. Really? A police detective stayed up late working on the case with his civilian girlfriend instead of his detective partner? Even the other people in town are asking her how the case is coming. At one point she responds with “We have a very strong suspect. Jon and Grace thing we’re close to solving the case.” We? When did Darcy join the police force??

There was one brief moment of dialogue that gave me hope for some depth. Darcy runs into her sister coming out of the coffee shop and asks what she’s doing. Her sister says, “Well, I don’t know Darcy. Maybe I was digging for gold or working on my car or something. What do you think I’m doing here. It’s a coffee shop. I’m getting coffee.” But then the writing descended into things like “Inside Anna’s cozy little home, death had visited” and “I’m getting signs from my sixth sense that I need to solve Anna’s death.”

There are at least two TSTL moments. One occurs when Darcy wakes to a figure standing over her bed whom she assumes is the murderer. She throws a book at it. Great defense strategy there. Fortunately for her, the figure is also TSTL and flees when assaulted with a flying book. There other occurs when she breaks into the house of who she believes to be the murderer. Alone. Though a window that she barely fit through.

Because there’s a ghost and Darcy has visions I guess you could call this a paranormal cozy which is normally not my thing but it’s a very light touch. Nothing offensive. In fact, that would be the description of this book in general. Nothing offensive. Nothing offensive is why I gave it three stars when I wavered between 2 and 3 stars. Just be aware this isn’t even comfort food reading, it’s cotton candy reading. Super-lightweight, most readers will finish it in less than two hours.

K.J. Emrick website

Would I pay money for it? I wouldn't because of it's length but I'm sure there are people who will
Would I read more by this author? If it was free.
Would I recommend this to a friend? I wouldn't discourage someone from reading it it they like this kind of thing.

Purchased as a Kindle freebie April 8, 2014

Friday, July 18, 2014

Matanzas Bay-An excellent beginning to a series set in St. Augustine

Matanzas Bay-An excellent beginning to a series set in St. Augustine by Parker Francis
Matanzas Bay by Parker Francis

This is the first book in the Quint Mitchell series but it doesn't read like a first book. So many times the first book in a series is spent getting to know the characters and setting them in their place. The character already feels like he has a history and timeline that he is anchored in. I liked that a lot and I consider it excellent writing on the part of the author.

I'm not familiar with St. Augustine but as a setting, it was very interesting! There is a good sense that this is a real place with real history.  Atmosphere is my favorite aspect of any story and I think I understand the atmosphere of St. Augustine a bit more after reading this.

The mystery was certainly full of a lot of twists and turns. There are some very good suspenseful scenes. You really don't figure it out until the author wants you to, even though all the clues are there.

All in all, this is one I would recommend to my friends. It kept me interested from the beginning, great setting, well-developed characters, puzzling mystery. The next book in this series is definitely on my TBR list.

Parker Francis' website

Would I pay money for it? Yes
Would I read more by this author? Yes
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes

Purchased as a Kindle freebie February 24, 2013

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington-Definitely not one I loved!

The One You Love by Paul Pilkington-Definitely not one I loved!

I love mysteries and thrillers but there was nothing thrilling about this story. I gave it the 40% try and then gave up on it. The dialogue was as stilted as I've ever seen in a published work and it sounded like an assignment for high school creative writing class. That's just something I can't get by.  When the dialogue is that unrealistic, the characters feel unreal and plastic.  The plot line was also uninspired and as it went on, I just really didn't care about anyone or anything happening in the book.  I definitely won't be reading anything more from this series.

Would I pay money for it? No
Would I read more by this author? No
Would I recommend this to a friend? No

Purchased as a Kindle freebie February 19, 2013

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Angel of Hever Castle-A bit more melodramatic than I expected

The Angel of Hever Castle

The Angel of Hever Castle is a Christmas novella in the City of Mystery series.  I have been enjoying that series.  I feel they are well researched historical mysteries with interesting characters. I've reviewed them before on this blog,  City of Darkness   City of Light   City of Silence This one didn't quite live up to what I had come to expect from this series.

It's set at Christmas time and the Thursday Night Murder Games Club are planning their quiet holidays when they are beseeched by a desperate mother to recover her daughter from the clutches of an despicable artist who has lured her away to Hever Castle. Hever Castle, as I learned in the book, is the ancestral home of Anne Boleyn.  It's been deserted and a colony of bohemian artist types have taken over, led by the afore mentioned despicable artist.  Scotland Yard detectives Trevor Welles and Rayley Abrams go undercover immediately to see if they can have her back by Christmas.  The events at Hever Castle uncover more evil than they had bargained for.

I found this book to be melodramatic and quite reminiscent of Gothic romances which was not what I was looking for with these characters.  The interaction between the team that I have come to appreciate was not there.  Not a badly written book, it just didn't feel like it fit in this series.

Would I pay money for it?Yes because I am one of those who like to read every book of a series
Would I read more by this author? Yes
Would I recommend this to a friend? Yes

Purchased as a freebie April 16, 2014