Thursday, April 19, 2018

What Are You Reading?

I just discovered a new mystery series that fits my interests. Cora Harrison's Reverend Mother mysteries are set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920s, not long after the Easter Rising of 1916. The series contains politics, social and cultural issues. But, at least in the one I read, it's also a straightforward traditional mystery with the Reverend Mother of the convent St. Mary's of the Isle as the amateur sleuth. She's a woman with a deep understanding of people. I've just started the first in the series, after reading the latest for a review. The first book is A Shameful Murder.

What are you reading or listening to this week? Anything that particularly piques your interest? We'd love to know!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Have You Heard? Killer Insight by Victoria Laurie

Today is my review deadline, which I will make, but that means I didn't read anything else last night. So, I'm glad Sandie Herron wrote a review of the audio book of Victoria Laurie's Killer Insight. Thank you, Sandie.


Killer Insight                                        
Killer Insight: Psychic Eye Mysteries, Book 4 | [Victoria Laurie]Series: Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye #4
Written by: Victoria Laurie
Narrated by: Elizabeth Michaels
Unabridged Audiobook
Length: 9 hrs and 18 mins 
Publisher: Audible Studios
Release Date: 03-02-10
ASIN: B003AOVPCA
**** stars

Abby Cooper, psychic intuitive, has been dating FBI agent Dutch Rivers for many months.  That they love each other is clear, and so is the fact that they are both stubborn.  They end up in a fight with many misunderstandings, and Abby takes it to mean they've broken up!
           
An old friend of hers is getting married, and one of her bridesmaids went missing several days ago, so she asks Abby to be her attendant.  With a desire to “get out of Dodge,” Abby agrees and hops on a plane bound for her old neighborhood in mile high Colorado.  Her visit is anything but pleasurable though.  From the moment she arrives, she joins with the group of old friends and tries to find the missing bridesmaid.  However, Abby's usually clear visions are quite foggy.  That is compounded by dealing with the high altitude, a different environment, and so many close friends, including ex-boyfriend Duffy McGinnis, now the town sheriff.  He is still handsome, charming, and seductive.  Believing she is single and unattached, Abby flirts back with Duffy.

Friends keep disappearing one by one.  They find one woman outside a shack, shot in the center of her chest three times.  There was no way she would have survived that wound.  The shooter must have either been clumsy or the victim of a set up because they find one man's wallet outside the shack by the victim, looking just like evidence. I found the audiobook so compelling.  It puts the story in your face and fills your senses so you, as the reader, are almost another character in the story who observes everything.

From the beginning of the book, Abby states that she died; that's no spoiler.  She does get to the scene of another killing just at the right time for the killer, someone she knows and is shocked to see with the gun in her hands, to shoot Abby in the chest.  Abby meets with her deceased grandmother who takes her on a tour of her life via pictures so she can know the ramifications of staying in what is perceived as Heaven, or she can know how many people she will help if she returns to Earth.


You will need to read this tense psychic thriller among friends to get the full story and see if you can figure out "whodunit" before the author reveals that fact and to find out what happens to the killer next.  Is there ever a wedding?

Each book in the Abby Cooper series is a bit better than the last, and this is no exception.  This book took "normal" thriller circumstances and tips them on their ear.  Everything is a bit off kilter, or a lot in many areas.  You will enjoy tracing the abundant clues and chasing down a murderer.  I am not the least bit worried about running out of Victoria Laurie mysteries.  Don't miss any highly recommended Abby Cooper mystery. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle

The seventeenth Coffehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle, Shot in the Dark, was one of my favorites. It's timely, and the authors are acutely aware of the relevance of social media in our daily lives. Fortunately, Sandie Herron enjoyed the book, too, because she had already signed on to review the book. Today is release day for Shot in the Dark. Thank you, Sandie.


SHOT IN THE DARK
By Cleo Coyle
Berkley Prime Crime, April 17, 2018

The Village Blend coffee shop has a new distinction – best hookup hot spot.  A new dating app has smartphone users swiping at possible dates faster than Clare Cosi and her baristas can keep the coffee flowing.  Clare’s ex-husband Matt fills them all in on the finer points of the Cinder app where Cinder-ellas meet Cinder-fellas.  Special ring tones signal when a candidate arrives in the man’s pumpkin box, and it is up to him to take the chance by swiping right or rejecting the young maiden by swiping left.  All the presenting and choosing are done quickly, making way for a new round of candidates.  Once the decision to meet occurs, much of the in-person side of dating takes place in public places, like the coffee house we all love.



One evening shots sound at The Village Blend.  While everyone ducks, Clare springs to action and climbs to the second floor lounge.  A young woman has a gun pointed at a man cowering in his seat.  She is spewing the sordid details of their Cinder love match gone terribly wrong.  Clare talks her down just as police arrive.  The publicity kicks in just as quickly as nine different videos of the event go viral, turning this hot spot into a dead spot.

Before Clare can turn her thoughts to how to recapture her audience, she meets her former mother-in-law Madame for a late dinner, saving her from abandonment from her own over-65 dating service beau.  Clare can’t avoid further trouble when she sees a dead woman floating in the Hudson River.  The floater turns out to be an executive from Cinder!

As their way of fighting back against the bad publicity, the entire Cinder staff cooks up an event to be held at The Village Blend with an audience of paid party goers to guarantee excellent attendance.  While Clare agrees to the stunt, she cooks up her own side event.  She has a picture drawn of the offending male and passed from barista to barista so they all know who to look out for.  Then she fires up her own cell phone to join Cinder and hunt him down herself.



A series of rowdy events full of mischief and mayhem follows, events not to be missed in the history of The Village Blend coffee house.  Barista Esther hosts a poetry slam in the second floor lounge that is wildly popular.  The crowd spills onto the outside sidewalk.  Thanks to Cinder’s initiative, The Village Blend is back in business.  But more occurs at this party to beat all parties than meets the eye.  One very dead body sends Clare down a new avenue of espionage, betrayal, and undercover acts that undermine several companies and individuals. A possible new suspect is found when Clare pieces together many of the new clues. 

I enjoyed the build up to the big comeback party when it seemed everything took off in many directions.  Clare was determined to find who put the woman in the Hudson River and make sure he was punished.  In doing so, she becomes entangled in discovering several corporate crimes.  She takes dangerous chances to track down a killer.  Many people become involved in the treachery that is uncovered, and I admire Clare’s persistence. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this 17th entry in the entertaining Coffeehouse Mysteries by Cleo Coyle (real life husband and wife team Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini).  It began with an event that caught my attention and touched a note in my own life so I was invested in following along on Clare’s quest to find several criminals.  I was glued to the pages when we came to the conclusion that was complex yet well explained.  An excellent choice in reading. 

*****
Cleo Coyle's website is http://www.coffeehousemystery.com/

Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle. Penguin, 2018. ISBN 9780451488848 (hardcover), 352p.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds by Steve Burrows

It takes a little time to figure out what's happening in Steve Burrows' fourth Birder Murder Mystery, A Shimmer of Hummingbirds. I hadn't read the previous books in the series, so I don't know the relationships. Burrows won the 2015 Arthur Ellis Award for his first book, A Siege of Bitterns. The author, and his character, Chief Inspector Domenic Jejeune, have both followed their passion for birdwatching.

Jejeune is in Colombia, although his boss doesn't believe he's really there to watch birds. The detective's brother has disappeared after he was involved in the deaths of four indigenous people. Jejeune is actually passionate about this birding trip, where he meets up with an old friend. But, of course, he's also looking for answers in the rainforest.

While Jejeune is gone, his nemesis, Marvin Laraby, takes over and steamrolls a murder investigation that involves a team of investors. But, the team keeps in touch with their boss, and Jejeune realizes Laraby is blundering toward the wrong solution.

Armchair travelers will enjoy the descriptions of the Colombian rainforest and the Norfolk forest. Fans of British police procedurals will appreciate the details of the investigation. I'll admit I wasn't as interested in the bird watching aspects of the book as in other elements. And, I'd advise readers to start with the first in the series. Since I haven't read the earlier books, I can't comment about the continuing storylines and characters. But, Burrows hints at ongoing problems at the conclusion of A Shimmer of Hummingbirds.

Steve Burrows' website is www.abirdermurder.com

A Shimmer of Hummingbirds by Steve Burrows. Point Blank, 2018. ISBN 9781786072337 (paperback), 384p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for  a journal.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova is known for her fiction that involves people whose lives are changed by diseases that affect the brain - Alzheimer's, left neglect brain disorder, autism, Huntington's disease. Now, she takes on ALS with Every Note Played. While the progression of the disease is explained completely, there's a few issues with her characters.

This is the story of a divorced couple, Richard and Karina. They're forty-five, and met in college where they were both studying piano. Karina came from Poland, and, while in school, she was the more accomplished pianist. By the time of the story, Richard is world-renowned as a classical pianist.  Now that their daughter, Grace, is in college, Karina lives alone, giving piano lessons in the house in Boston where they moved early in their marriage. It's at a party that Karina learns Richard has cancelled his latest tour because he has ALS.

Viewpoints alternate as the reader learns about the progression of Richard's disease through his eyes, and through Karina's. When she's in town, and he accidentally calls her in an emergency, they both realize he has reached a stage where he needs more attention than he's getting in his condo. Karina offers to have him move back in, and she becomes his primary caregiver.

Did you notice the unemotional way I summarized Every Note Played? That's one of the two problems with the book. Every Note Played is very unemotional. It's interesting to see the progression of ALS. But, it's hard for the reader to care because the other problem is Richard. He's a selfish man, and there's very little reason to feel sorry for him. The characters lack emotion and depth in this story.

I loved Still Alice. I can't say I really enjoyed Every Note Played. It read like a textbook, rather than a novel. Interesting, yes. But, the characters were too cold, and it was hard to become emotionally involved in the book.

Lisa Genova's website is www.lisagenova.com

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova. Scout Press, 2018. ISBN 9781476717807 (hardcover), 307p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin

It's fun to read a debut author's first mystery. It's even more interesting when it's a book I never thought I'd pick up, but I discover I enjoyed the character and the story. In fact, I'll look forward to A.J. Devlin's followup to Cobra Clutch.

When "Hammerhead" Jed Ounstead retired from pro wrestling, he took a job as a bar bouncer. Occasionally, he helps his father, an ex-cop turned private detective, by running a few errands. He had no plans of becoming a detective, despite his father's hopes. But, when Jed's former tag-team wrestling partner shows up, Jed doesn't have much of a choice. He owes his successful career to Johnny Mamba.

Someone kidnapped Johnny's python, Ginger. He loves her, and he uses her in his entrance to the ring. He insists he can't wrestle without her. There's a ransom demand for Ginger. Jed agrees to look into it, but he doesn't make himself very welcome at the X-Treme Canadian Championship Wrestling building. But, before he can investigate further, Johnny Mamba and Ginger are murdered.

Now, it's more than a job. Despite the investigating officer who was his father's protege, Jed insists on looking for the killer. Jed involves his Uncle Declan, a former IRA operative turned bartender. But, he can only help so far. Jed's house is trashed. He's beaten up, kidnapped, and nearly shot to death. He finds himself involved not only with the pro wrestling world, but with a case involving drugs and bikers. But, "Hammerhead" was more than a nickname. Jed isn't going to quit.

Cobra Clutch is a fast-paced, action-packed, debut. The violence is graphic. There are traces of humor, usually provided by Declan. But, the angry, flawed sleuth is bold and competitive in this gritty original story. If you tried and liked Glen Erik Hamilton's Van Shaw novels, give this one a try.

A.J. Devlin's website is www.ajdevlin.com

Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin. NeWest Press, 2018. ISBN 9781988732244 (paperback), 270p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - I received the book to review for a journal.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Winners and the Deadly Female

Congratulations to the winners of the last contest. Plum Tea Crazy will go to Kimbrell S. from Spartanburg, SC. Amy W. from Spring Grove, IL won Hummus and Homicide. The books will go out in the mail today.

This week, I'm giving away books written by "Deadly Females". The books also feature female main characters. Leslie Wheeler's Rattlesnake Hill takes Kathryn Stinson to the Berkshires where she's searching for a family story. But, these aren't the Berkshires everyone knows. The people of Rattlesnake Hill are suspicious, and they remember the woman who was murdered, the woman who lives in the same house where Kathryn now lives. And, then a passionate affair leads Kathryn into a collision with the past and present.





Becky Masterman's A Twist of the Knife takes former FBI agent Brigid Quinn to Florida. She doesn't go back to visit her family often, but her former partner, Laura Coleman, whose life she once saved and who saved her life, is also living in Florida. When Laura calls about a case that's not going well, Brigid gets on a plane. It's a story about family. Brigid's own family has secrets. And, Laura is trying to exonerate a man on death row for killing his family. If Creighton didn't kill his family, who did?





Which book would you like to win? You can enter to win both, but I need separate entries. Email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject heading should read either "Win Rattlesnake Hill" or "Win A Twist of the Knife." Please include your name and mailing address. The giveaway will end Thursday, April 19 at 5 PM CT. Entries from the U.S. only, please.