Book Reviews: Murder in Retribution by Anne Cleeland and The Blood Promise by Mark Pryor

Murder in retributionMurder in Retribution
A New Scotland Yard Mystery
Anne Cleeland
Kensington Books, August 2014
ISBN 978-0-7582-8797-7
Hardcover

The theme of the story centers on the unexpected marriage of Doyle and Acton, the Scotland Yard chief inspector, previously the most eligible bachelor in the police force, and the resentment it causes with co-workers, Acton’s family and close friends. Acton is obsessed with Doyle’s safety following a suspicious illness. As they investigate several murders suspected of being drug lord and Russian gang related, further attempts are made on Doyle’s life. A subplot to the investigation of the murders is trying to determine who and why someone would want Doyle dead.

Acton arrests an infamous criminal suspected of murder, not with any proof of the murder, but on an illegal weapons charge as it is illegal to carry a concealed weapon in England. Doyle begins to wonder if her husband might be involved in some of the unscrupulous activities going on behind the scenes.

Acton becomes a character who does wrong for the right reasons. Interestingly, along with his wife, we are able to forgive him and be content that his actions remain undiscovered. Isn’t there a bit of Robin Hood in each of us? We secretly want to see justice done when the bad guy can’t be convicted and cheer when the doer dispatches him and rides away in the night, unseen.

I enjoyed comparing our current TV detective shows, (Castle, Bones, Sherlock Holmes) with the inner workings of the Scotland Yard department. Occasionally, certain words, the titles of the detectives and initials of law enforcement departments, CID, SOCO, DCS, probably familiar to the English reader, were confusing, but it was a small thing and didn’t detract from the story. Other specific English terms and vocabulary words lent an English flavor to the story.

All in all, I found this a very good book with compelling plot, charming characters, and the interesting setting of English towns and countryside. I would recommend the story to a reader who enjoys a police detective story.

Reviewed by Elaine Faber, June 2014.
Author of Black Cat’s Legacy.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Blood PromiseThe Blood Promise
A Hugo Marston Novel #3
Mark Pryor
Seventh Street Books, January 2014
ISBN 978-1-61614-815-7
Trade Paperback

I had a mixed response to The Blood Promise. There were many things I liked about this book. First, it is the third in a series but I didn’t feel that I missed anything by not reading the other two as well. Second, there were several moments of heart-felt emotion, especially surrounding a specific death. And finally, there were interesting ties from past to present.

Unfortunately the issues I had against the book outweighed the things I enjoyed. I love to read, especially mysteries, but this one challenged me. When writing a book, an author often chooses between detail and pacing. For me, this author made the wrong choice on several occasions. In the first chapter alone there is excruciating detail for a scene with a character that we never see again. At first the details are interesting, but rather than use it to set the stage, more and more detail is layered on until I had to force myself not to skip ahead to get to what was important.

Pacing is an issue that went well beyond the first chapter for me. In fact I struggled through the first half if not 2/3rds of the book until I truly became caught up in the story and read to the end.

Another issue I had was language choices. While most of it was perfect, I found myself stumbling over the odd use of slang in an otherwise professional or formal discussion. This happened with various characters in different settings and I found it off-putting.

Then there were the coincidences (slashed tires) and odd leaps of faith or intuition that kept the story moving from one plot point to another. And finally, after reading to the end, I returned to an early chapter to reread it. I felt that the author had not played fair with his audience in the use of language early on and ultimately found the “why” to be somewhat believable but not something I truly accepted as reasonable.

Then there was a death which served no purpose that I can see as no evidence was found that lead to the killer and no one was concerned that in all likelihood the main character was the actual target. There was no whys, no extra precautions taken, no acknowledgement that if the killer tried once, he or she would try again, which they never did.

All in all this was a struggle for me to finish and while the pacing picked up, the payout wasn’t worth it.

Reviewed by Erin Farwell, February 2014.
Author of Shadowlands.

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