A Reviewer’s Confession

I have a serious failing—the backlog of reviews I need to do is, well, kind of staggering. How did I get in such a state? Easy. I finish one book and pick up the next one right away, telling myself I’ll write that review after I read just a little bit. Uh huh, you see how well that works. My only consolation is that I know every avid reader out there will understand.

So, my New Year’s resolution is to get caught up on the reviews that need to be written (are you holding your breath?) but, in the meantime, here’s a sampling of what’s to come and this is only about half of the leaning tower 😉

Not a Drop to DrinkNot a Drop to Drink
Mindy McGinnis
Katherine Tegen Books, September 2013
ISBN 978-0-06-219850-1
Hardcover

Young Adult post-apocalyptic, will be on my Best of 2013 list

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Spies and PrejudiceSpies and Prejudice
Talia Vance
Egmont USA, June 2013
ISBN 978-1-60684-260-7
Hardcover

Young Adult humorous mystery

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TwerpTwerp
Matt Goldblatt
Random House Children’s Books, May 2013
ISBN 978-0-375-97142-6
Hardcover

Middle Grade/Young Adult friendship and bullies, almost historical

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Multiple Exposure AudioMultiple Exposure
A Sophie Medina Mystery
Ellen Crosby
Scribner, August 2013
ISBN 978-1-4516-5928-3
Hardcover
Blackstone Audio
Narrated by Caroline Shaffer
Unabridged Downloaded Audio Book

Mystery, thriller, photojournalist, espionage, Russia and DC

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StrangeletsStrangelets
Michelle Gagnon
Soho Teen, April 2013
ISBN 978-1-61695-137-5
Hardcover

Young Adult, science fiction

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The Cat That God SentThe Cat That God Sent
Jim Kraus
Abingdon Press, April 2013
ISBN 978-1-4267-6561-2
Trade Paperback

Christian fiction, small town, cat

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GoldenGolden
Jessi Kirby
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, May 2013
ISBN 978-1-4424-5216-9
Hardcover

Young Adult, mystery

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Bubble WorldBubble World
Carol Snow
Henry Holt and Company, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-8050-9571-5
Hardcover

Young Adult, science fiction

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The TestingThe Testing
Testing Trilogy, #1
Joelle Charbonneau
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, June 2013
ISBN 978-0-547-95910-8
Hardcover

Young Adult, post-apocalyptic, will be on my Best of 2013 list

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The Providence of DeathThe Providence of Death
Bronson L. Parker
Lulu, 2010
ISBN 0557390745
Trade Paperback

Ex-detective (chief of detectives), widower, mystery

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Discord's AppleDiscord’s Apple
Carrie Vaughn
Read by Luke Daniels and Angela Dawe
Brilliance Audio, 2010
ISBN 978-1-4418-7600-3
Unabridged Audio Book

Urban Fantasy, mythology, magic

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Getting Old Is the Best RevengeGetting Old Is the Best Revenge
Rita Lakin
Dell, 2006
ISBN 0-440-24259-2
Mass Market Paperback

Mystery, senior citizens

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BloodshotBloodshot
Cherie Priest
Read by Natalie Ross
Brilliance Audio,
ISBN 978-1-4418-9085-6
Unabridged Audio Book

Urban Fantasy, mystery, vampires, no sparkles but some humor

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In the WoodsIn the Woods
Tana French
Read by Steven Crossley
Penguin Audio, 2007
ISBN 9780143142188
Unabridged Audio Book

Mystery, police procedural, Ireland, will be on my Best of 2013 list

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The Christie CurseThe Christie Curse
Victoria Abbott
Berkley Prime Crime, 2013
ISBN 978-0-425-25528-5
Mass Market Paperback

Mystery, rare book hunter

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Taliesin AscendantTaliesin Ascendant
The Children of the Blood Book TwoMegan Joel Peterson
CreateSpace, August 2013
ISBN 978-1490912219
Trade Paperback

Young Adult, urban fantasy, wizards, magic

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Forty NightsForty Nights
Neila’s Ark: Book Two
Stephanie Parent
Stephanie Parent, October 2013
Ebook

Young Adult, apocalyptic, biblical

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The CreepsThe Creeps
A Samuel Johnson Tale
John Connolly
Emily Bestler Books/Atria, October 2013
ISBN 978-1-4767-5709-4
Hardcover

Dark fantasy, horror, humor, England

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What We Saw At NightWhat We Saw at Night
Jacquelyn Mitchard
Read by Rebecca Gibel
AudioGo, January 2013
ISBN 978-1-62064-712-7
Unabridged Audio Book

Young Adult, mystery, thriller

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Book Reviews: Forevermore by Cindy Miles and Summer of the Woods by Steven K. Smith

ForevermoreForevermore
Cindy Miles
Point, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-545-42622-0
Trade Paperback

Ah, the quintessential love story.  This is the Hershey’s chocolate bar.  It is the song that makes you grin, pump up the volume and dance.  It is, in a word, awesome.

Ripped from her home in sultry South Carolina to start a new life in an ancient Scottish castle, Ivy exhibits courage and strength as she grimly strives to accept her fate.  This reader couldn’t help but fall in love with this spunky, violin-wielding character.  She is pretty much everything I wanted to be as a teen-aged girl.  Her admirable qualities include confidence, a remarkably open mind and a quiet, but unmistakable, resolve as she is forced to face unknown adversaries.  Who doesn’t want to be a tough, cool chick with a huge (hidden) romantic streak?

Speaking of romance, enter Logan Munro.  From the author’s amazing descriptions, I know he is no less than dreamy.  With his rugged good looks, charming Scottish brogue and fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards Ivy, I fell for him immediately.  Of course, life is never so simple.  Despite the obvious attraction and compatibility, Logan and Ivy know that they can never be together, in a conventional sense.  Ivy is alive and well and Logan is…………not.  Being young, they don’t fight their feelings, they simply strive to accept the companionship that they can have…..at least for as long as Logan’s soul is lingering in limbo.

This unique relationship is not the biggest problem Ivy faces.  The malevolent force that seemed determine to destroy her has shifted its focus to her beloved mother.  Ivy must stop the evil quickly or she will lose her mom forever.   Figuring out how to end the black madness is one thing; knowing that her success may cost her Logan is quite another.

With her enchanting words, Ms. Miles paints a gorgeous picture of Scotland and its magnificent architecture.  Feeling emerged in the scenes, the story seemed to wrap around me….almost like falling into a dream.  This is the only book that I can recall that warmed my heart as is simultaneously chilled me to the bone.

**Sidebar regarding Labeling:  I appreciate that this book falls into the Middle Grade genre, as it is most certainly appropriate for that age group; however, I fear that this limits the potential audience.  I have celebrated my 40th birthday (and then some) and I often dig into very serious and heavy non-fiction, “adult-themed” books.  This does not preclude me from enjoying a great story that is told amazingly well.  Forevermore is such a story.   Please, put the label aside and enjoy.**

Reviewed by jv poore, August 2013.

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Summer of the WoodsSummer of the Woods
Steven K. Smith
MyBoys3 Press, May 2013
ISBN 978-0-9893414-1-7
Trade Paperback

If Mr. Smith’s first book is an indication of things to come, he will quickly become one of my son’s favourite authors.  Mine too, actually.  Although The Boy, an 8-year old 3rd grader, loves to read on his own, he still indulges my Mommy Moments and allows me to occasionally read a book with him.  To me, Summer of the Woods is the ideal book for this, because it has something for adults, as well as for children.

As if by magic, Mr. Smith presents the perfect combination of nostalgia and modern day.  This exemplifies the summers I remember.  Freely roaming all around, turning over rocks in creeks, exploring woods and caves while our imaginations provided limitless adventures.  Kids being kids.  Good times, good stuff.

On the other hand, there are some pretty cool tools that we, as parents, have today, that I bet my folks would have welcomed.  Google.  Oh, how I love Google, as a mom.  Kids will always be curious, and the “new” advantage of quickly answering their questions with information and pictures at your fingertips allows their little minds to just keep going and going.  Which is why they are so darn smart, as brilliantly demonstrated in this story.

Two young boys move to Richmond, Virginia; into a large, old house, backed by woods and a winding creek.  So, yes, I am a bit biased, but only because Mr. Smith captures the essence of my home so accurately and vividly.  In no time at all, young Sam finds an old wheat penny, which leads them to the discovery of the legendary mystery.  Supposedly, a valuable and rare coin collection was stolen from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts many, many years ago and was never recovered.  As all good boys would do, the brothers make it their mission to solve the crime and recover the treasure.  What follows is a classic adventure that you simply must experience.

I admit that I went into this book with high expectations.  Not only was I not disappointed, but I was quite surprised to find so many things that I love about this book.  The dialogue and teasing among the family is spot-on.  The mystery was fun, interesting, and authentic.  The boys’ emotions and actions are more than credible—these are typical 8 and 10 year old boys.  The story flowed so smoothly that I actually read this in one sitting, although that wasn’t my plan when I picked it up.

**Sidebar:  For the 3rd consecutive year, all of the students in my son’s elementary school (K-5) will be reading the same book, at the same time, with their families.  The first year was E.B. White’s The Trumpet of the Swan and last year was George Selden’s The Cricket in Times Square.  Both books were fine, but not necessarily captivating.  Neither The Boy nor I had any desire to quickly seek out more books by these authors (because I had already read Charlotte’s Web about 100 times).  Summer of the Woods is this year’s book.  Yes, I cheated.  I read ahead, and on my own.  I am not even sorry.  But, there is one issue that I foresee.  With the other two books it was very easy to read one chapter each day and then put the book down.  I don’t see that being the case with this page-turner; but, as a reader, I honestly can’t see that as a bad thing. 

I can’t wait to see what the kids think of this story, and I’m already very excited about Mr. Smith’s next book: Mystery on Church Hill. **

Reviewed by jv poore, October 2013.

Book Reviews: Gods and Beasts by Denise Mina, The Devil in Her Way by Bill Loehfelm, and Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner

Gods and BeastsGods and Beasts
Denise Mina
Reagan Arthur Books, March 2013
ISBN: 978-0-316-18852-4
Hardcover

Alex Morrow, DS with the Strathclyde police, is back in the newest book by this Scottish author.  The twins with whom Morrow was pregnant in the last book, the wonderful The End of the Wasp Season, are now a few months old.  As the new book opens, she is deep into what is referred to as “the Barrowfields investigation,” when a new case comes her way:  One week before Christmas, during the course of an armed robbery in a busy Glasgow post office, an elderly man who was patiently waiting in line suddenly is seen to assist the gunman, but not before handing his young grandson to a stranger, soon after which the grandfather is brutally murdered by the robber, who makes a clean escape.  The only clue the police have is the fact that the alarm system was not working the morning of the crime.  And the additional fact that the innocent bystander to whom the young boy was entrusted turns out to be much more complex than he at first appears.

I have had nothing but praise for the several earlier novels by Ms. Mina that I have read, and would like to say that this newest book was equally wonderful.  But I have to admit that I found it slow-moving and felt almost disjointed, as the several story lines unfold, including rampant control of the city by gangs (mostly involved in the drug trade, said to be worth more than a billion pounds a year in Scotland); police corruption; and a goodly amount of political discussion.  The final pieces don’t fall into place until nearly the very last page.  I should perhaps add that Paddy Meehan, the protagonist of several of Ms. Mina’s earlier books, makes a couple of peripheral appearances here.

I will still look forward to future offering from this author, but this one didn’t come up to the high level reached by its predecessors for this reviewer.  Oh, and should one wonder, the title is from Aristotle:  “Those who live outside the city walls, and are self-sufficient, are either Gods or Beasts.”

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2013.

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The Devil In Her WayThe Devil in Her Way
Bill Loehfelm
Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-374-29885-2
Hardcover

Maureen Coughlin made her initial fictional appearance in The Devil She Knows.  Now, at the age of 30, after being a waitress for nine years, living through a series of unrewarding relationships, and residing with her mother on Staten Island, she decides to become a cop.  When the test for the NYPD is postponed, she applies and is accepted for the police academy in New Orleans.  And that’s where this novel begins, with Maureen serving her probationary trial period under the tutelage of Preacher Boyd, a wizened, jaundiced but savvy veteran NOPD police officer.

The plot, such as it is, follows Maureen and Preacher from her graduation from the police academy through her probationary period. On her first day, she answers a domestic call where she is brutally punched by a man bursting through the door.  While backup officers recover two pounds of weed, while she looks on from the street, a young boy seems to want to tell her something, but is warned off by someone across the street.  This sets the stage for an ever-inquisitive Maureen to pursue what turns out to be a major investigation, including murders, best left to homicide detectives, a specialty to which she aspires.

As a protagonist, Maureen leaves a lot to be desired.  Perhaps it is too early in her career to wish for more and she will develop more fully in future installments.  As a rookie, as her training officer reminds her often, much of what she attempts is none of her business. Sometimes it turns out OK, others, not so much.  The novel starts out slowly, and does not grab the reader, at least this one, until virtually the final pages  The author, who also moved from Staten Island to New Orleans, interweaves various post-Katrina observations throughout the book, reminding the reader of the devastation which still plagues the city.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2013.

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Touch & GoTouch & Go
Lisa Gardner
Signet, November 2013
ISBN 978-0-451-46584-9
Mass Market Paperback

This standalone opens with the kidnapping of Justin Denbe, his 45-year-old pill-popping wife Libby, and their 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn [who would seem to be wise beyond her years].  The author switches back and forth from Libby’s 1st person p.o.v. to third person throughout, having the effect of making Libby and her family not just ciphers, or “the victims,” but equally protagonists for whom the reader feels empathy.  This is nominally a police procedural about that kidnapping, filled with the expected quotient of suspense, but ultimately it’s much more than that:  it’s about a family which seemingly has it all, from their opulent Back Bay house in Boston to the hundred-million-dollar construction business headed by Justin.

While bringing back characters known from Ms. Gardner’s previous novels, 29-year-old corporate investigator and former Massachusetts State Police Trooper Tessa Leoni and Boston’s “reigning super cop,” Detective Sergeant D.D. Warren, other cops called into the case include New Hampshire detective Wyatt Foster and his former lover, FBI Special Agent Nicole “Nicky” Adams.  There appear to be no leads as to who pulled off this apparently very well-planned abduction, or any motive, as the first full day goes by with no ransom demand or other contact.

The suspense continues along pulse-pounding and unexpected paths right up until the end.  I found the novel even better than I had expected, although I had read and enjoyed a few of the author’s books in the past, and I will eagerly await the next one.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, November 2013.

Book Reviews: Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson, Original Skin by David Mark, and Andrew’s Brain by E. L. Doctorow

Capital MurderCapital Punishment
Robert Wilson
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2013
ISBN: 978-0-547-93519-5-5
Hardcover

It’s not often that kidnappers do not demand money in exchange for the victim.  But that is precisely what happens when Alyshia D’Cruz, daughter of an Indian billionaire, Frank D’Cruz, is grabbed one night in London, and she is subjected to intense psychological interrogation, for reasons that are unclear to her father.

The ramifications of the abduction are wide.  One possible motive is revenge on her father—but at whose instigation and for what reason: Gangster associates with whom he has been in business?  Terrorists in Pakistan, where he has operations and dealings with intelligence agents?  There are other theories involving MI-6 and other spy agencies, personal relationships of various characters, including Frank’s ex-wife, Frank’s relationship with his daughter, and her relationship with her mother (Frank’s ex-wife).  Ultimately Charles Boxer, a private security officer, is retained by Frank to rescue his daughter.

This is a very complicated novel, written with great depth and on many levels, encompassing religious fanatics, Indian mobsters, London crime lords, Pakistani politics, and British government officials, all kinds of plots within plots and distorted personal relationships.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2013.

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Original SkinOriginal Skin
David Mark
Blue Rider Press, May 2013
ISBN: 978-0-399-15865-0
Hardcover

Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy showed in his debut in The Dark Winter that he not only blushes easily, but his gut leads him to see crimes passed over by others.  Once again, he follows his instincts to solve a murder chalked up by others in the CID as a suicide.  It’s not as if the Yorkshire Serious and Organized Crime Unit hasn’t enough to do, but by conducting his “informal” investigation, McAvoy brings the “solve” statistics way up as at least two more murders occur.

Simultaneously, the Unit is overwhelmed by a series of crimes brought about by a vicious group seeking to take over the drug trade previously run by Vietnamese.  But McAvoy sniffs foul play in the year-old discovery of the nude body of a young man found choked in his home, hanging in his kitchen.  So he looks into it informally, with a sort of blessing by his superior, Detective Trish Pharaoh, and learns more about underground erotic sex activities than he bargained for, as well as coming too close to politicians who can cause him more trouble than it’s worth.

The plot moves swiftly, and the interchanges between Aector and Trish are so understated and poignant that the reader can only marvel at the author’s low-key approach.  This follow-up to the debut novel is more than a worthy successor; it is a wonderful addition to the series, which, we hope, will continue strongly in the future.

Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, October 2013.

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Andrew's BrainAndrew’s Brain
E. L. Doctorow
Random House, January 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4000-6881-4
Hardcover

The eponymous Andrew reminds me of the Al Capp (Li’l Abner) character,Joe Mxstlpk, who walked under a black cloud and was followed by a calamity wherever he went.  That is the story told by this Andrew, presumably to a psychologist or “shrink,” of his life:  the trials and tribulations, loves and losses, highs and lows.  In a way, the novel also reminds me somewhat of James Joyce’s Ulysses, except that it is written in clear prose and complete sentences.  The tale is related in a disjointed stream of consciousness, flitting from topic to topic, but is grouped into eleven “chapters,” various phases of Andrew’s life.  Apparently, Mr. Doctorow set out to write a book of very different quality than his previous efforts, which include such popular novels as World’s Fair, Billy Bathgate, Loon Lake and Ragtime [which also found its way into a hit musical].

It is unfortunate that this novel may not attract readers of his previous work, although it should gain plenty of critical acclaim.  As such, it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, December 2013.

Book Reviews: Cemetery Whites by Connie Knight and A Treacherous Paradise by Henning Mankell

Cemetery WhitesCemetery Whites
A Caroline Hargrove Hamilton Mystery
Connie Knight
Maple Creek Media, April 2013
ISBN No.: 9780985967895
Ebook

Henrietta Hargrove Harrell had driven the dirt roads of DeWitt County for her entire eighty-five years.  Professor Thomas Harrison of San Antonio had been told about Henrietta and on his trip to Yorktown he knocked on Henrietta’s door and introduced himself.  The Professor asked Henrietta to drive him to the Hargrove Family Cemetery.  He told her that seeing the graveyard would fit into some historical research of his.  Henrietta, known as Great Aunt Hettie to the Hargrove clan agreed.  But just in case some problem might crop up, Henrietta brought along Dolnny Harrell, her thirty-three year old grandson, as well as a Colt 45 in her purse.

None of the three in Henrietta’s vehicle noticed the little grey car following along behind.  When Henrietta pulled up at the cemetery the grey car parked in some brush to hide.   The Professor stated that he wanted to see some of the graves in the older section of the cemetery, specifically Thomas Watson Hargrove and his wife, Elizabeth Dennison, early settlers to the area.

Henrietta pointed out the grave where a large patch of white Irises known as Cemetery Whites grew.    The trip to the cemetery didn’t end well for the professor or Henrietta or her grandson.

Caroline Hargrove Hamilton has just relocated from Houston, Texas after the death of her husband.  Caroline has moved back to DeWitt County.  She determines while in Yorktown she will study the history of her family and perhaps be able to publish some articles of historical value.

Caroline’s cousin Janet volunteers to chauffer Caroline around and one of the first stops is the cemetery.  Henrietta is nowhere to be seen but the Professor is lying amount the Cemetery Whites.  It appears that the Professor has been shot.

So begins Caroline and Janet’s investigation into the murder as well as learning much about the family history.  The two dug up a lot of the past and learned about new connections to the family that no one had discovered previously.

This was an interesting book and I look forward to Caroline’s future adventures if the series is carried on.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, December 2013.

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A Treacherous ParadiseA Treacherous Paradise
Henning Mankell
Translated by Laurie Thompson
Alfred A. Knopf, July 2013
ISBN 978-0-307-96122-8
Hardcover

Truth: documents were discovered that told of a Swedish white woman who lived in Africa in the Portuguese founded town of Lourenco Marques. This woman ran a brothel. The record doesn’t say anything about this woman, why she lived in the town, or what happened to her. Apparently, she disappeared as mysteriously as she appeared. Author Henning Mankell tells her tale in this novel of speculative fiction.

1904. Hanna Lundmark, raised in Sweden is forced by her mother to travel to the coast to find work since their meager farm is failing. Soon, she’s on a ship bound for Australia. She marries one of the sailors but a month later, at an African port, he dies. Unable to cope with the grief by staying aboard, she departs and ends up living in a brothel. From then on, she sees her life change in so many ways as she interacts with the native population of blacks, and the numerous whites from various countries.

I wasn’t too sure about this book and even after finishing, am not completely certain of my feelings. It’s long with a long build-up at the beginning detailing much of Hanna’s life. It lacks high action but only because it’s not a mystery/thriller type of book. This is a book about culture, about discovery of attitude and emotions, of decisions made and the consequences that follow. This book shows the racism of the period, of the distrust from both blacks and whites.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, September 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.

Book Reviews: A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames and Live and Let Fly by Karina L. Fabian

A Killing at Cotton HillA Killing at Cotton Hill
A Samuel Craddock Mystery
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books, July 2013
ISBN 978-1-61614-799-0
Trade Paperback

Retired police chief Samuel Craddock is forced to step in when his friend Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered. Rodell, the present police chief of the small Texas town isn’t good for much except drinking and womanizing–mostly with the wrong woman–and is fond of taking the easy way out. In this case, he arrests the dead woman’s grandson, Greg, who lives on the farm with her. Why? Because he’s there. The evidence, let alone any  kind of motive, is lacking.

Samuel is still working through the loss of his dearly beloved wife, and finally taking an interest in outside things. This includes a casual friendship with Loretta, and a renewed passion for art. While trying not to let Rodell know what he’s up to, when he begins investigating Dora Lee’s death, he soon discovers her grandson is an extremely talented artist. It’s this talent, in part, that makes Samuel decide to take the case on. During the investigation, he becomes friends with attorney Jenny Sandstone, whom I feel certain we’ll see more of in the next Samuel Craddock mystery.

Samuel’s investigation places him right in the murderer’s headlights. His house, and his art collection, amassed with his dead wife, is nearly destroyed via an arsonist’s fire. Instead of discouraging the former policeman, the damage only makes him more determined to find the killer.

The plot moves right along. We get to know Samuel as a determined, dutiful man who isn’t quite ready to hang up his lawman’s hat, after all. All the characters are well-drawn, both the small-town folks, and the potential killers. A fine line to walk, that author Terry Shames manages very well indeed.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, October 2013.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

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Live and Let FlyLive and Let Fly
Karina L. Fabian
MuseItUp Publishing, April 2012
Ebook

Vern wasn’t your ordinary PI. For a start he was a dragon…and has a nun for a sidekick…and he lives in Los Lagos, Colorado. These days, he tries to solve crime rather than eating optimistic knights who really should have known better. But something’s come up. There’s a damsel in distress, a cataclysmic disaster about to unfold and Vern and Sister Grace are the only ones who can stop it. Will they save the world and prevent the next Ragnarok? Will they rescue the damsel and make it out alive? And most importantly, who’s going to sign off on their expenses?

I confess that the idea of a dragon being a successful PI is not an idea I thought I would have readily accepted. I was even more sceptical when I continually heard Vern talking like Jimmy Stewart in a ‘now look here see?’ kind of way. It reads like the old film noir classics where characters explained themselves to the camera and jazz music plinked in the background. But I guess that says more about me than it does about the book.

This is a decent enough title if you’re not averse to cliché filled prose and ridiculous setups. It is essentially a crime novel with an added element of fantasy thrown in but I felt that the book was too long winded to be truly enjoyable. I found myself willing pages to turn not because I wanted to know what happened, but more to just get to the end of the thing. It felt like it took me a fortnight to read and in fact, it did take a fortnight before I got through it all. If this were heavily edited, with most of the unnecessary scenes taken out, it would make for a much faster paced title. As it is however, it rather becomes an exercise in ‘goodness, what now?’ exasperation as you lurch from one disaster to another. While there are many humorous parts and some tongue-in-cheek references to religion, the book ended up being too cumbersome for my liking. A brave effort but unfortunately, this is one title that will not survive the dragon’s gaze.

Reviewed by Laura McLaughlin, June 2013.