Book Review: Dark Sky by C.J. Box @cjboxauthor @PutnamBooks

Dark Sky
A Joe Pickett Novel #21
C. J. Box
G.P. Putnam’s Sons, March 2021
ISBN 978-0-525-53827-1
Hardcover

It is mid-October, snow is on the ground, and game warden Joe Pickett has reluctantly agreed to do a favour for the Wyoming Governor. This favour entails accompanying a high-tech executive on an Elk Hunting trip. Joe and Brock Boedecker, who is supplying the pack horses for this trip, are waiting at the Saddlespring Municipal Airport for their guest to arrive. HIs name is Steven Price or Steve-2, a Silicon Valley billionaire and the brains and money behind ConFab a social media site.

Steve-2 has always wanted to explore nature and live off the land, but as Joe watches the millionaire’s plane being unloaded he begins to wish he’d never agreed to the trip. Steve-2 has brought way too much baggage, that includes camera’s, electronic equipment and some comforts of home that are, to Joe’s mind, totally unnecessary.

Anxious to get underway and set up camp before dark, Joe gets the hunting party moving. The five men, Brock, Joe, Steve-2, his personal assistant Tim and bodyguard, Zsolt Rumy, set off, unaware they are riding into a trap.

A trio of men are out for revenge. They blame Steve-2 for the death of a family member. The threesome have a plan of attack, uncaring for any collateral damage that might ensue.

Meanwhile Joe’s wife, Marybeth, hasn’t heard from her husband since he left on the trip. Worried, she contacts Joe’s best friend, Nate Romanowski who, along with Joe’s eldest daughter Sheridan, head out to locate the hunting party.

I’ve long been a fan of C. J. Box and the Joe Pickett series. The Pickett family have become like old friends. The detail and knowledge the author brings to each of his novels makes for a realistic and often heart stopping ride whenever he ventures into the back country. The descriptions of Joe’s Wyoming home along with the grandeur of the Bighorn Mountains are unforgettable.

In this his twenty-first Pickett novel, Joe has to call on all his skills in his attempts to keep his overbearing and unlikeable client alive. With the weather conditions deteriorating and with no means of summoning help, their future is bleak.

Grab this latest by C. J. Box, you’ll be hard pressed to put it down.

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, April 2021.

Book Review: The Breaker by Nick Petrie @_NickPetrie_ @PutnamBooks

The Breaker
A Peter Ash Novel #6
Nick Petrie
G. P. Putman’s Sons, January 2021
ISBN 978-0-525-53547-8
Hard Cover

Peter Ash is back living with his girlfriend June in the Milwaukee area.  After his previous adventure in Iceland, (The Wild One)  he’s  considered a wanted man and he and June his girlfriend are trying to stay under the radar. Together with his best friend Lewis, they are heading to an outdoor market when Peter notices a suspicious man walking through the market.  When Peter glimpses a gun under the man’s jacket, he’s sure this guy is up to no good, a definite threat to the people in attendance but events don’t unfold as expected when the man corners and confronts one person.

Peter attempts to intervene, but after a brief altercation both the attacker and his potential victim escape; one on an electric bike the other on foot, leaving Peter and Lewis to wonder what really went down.  Lewis finds a pair of sunglasses and not wanting to be questioned by the Police, who were summoned to the market, they both slip away.

This is the beginning of what turns into a rather complex and bizarre plot, involving a tech thief, a paid assassin, an inventor out for revenge, and a paranoid man who is a danger not just to the local community but to the entire country.

The next day June, believing she knows the man the attacker confronted, decides to see if she can uncover his identity.  As a journalist meantime working on a book, she’s also snagged a desk at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and heads to the office on her bicycle.  When she is sideswiped by a pickup truck, and the driver seems intent on giving her a ride, she senses the encounter wasn’t accidental and deftly makes her escape.

Meanwhile as Peter and Lewis attempt to find the owner of the sunglasses they are met with polite but steady resistance at every turn, a sure sign that something is afoot.

They aren’t wrong….

Peter Ash is a character not unlike Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.  They were both in the Army, both strong silent types, both willing and more than able to jump in and help someone in trouble or in need.  And they seem to rise to the occasion whenever they meet a dangerous and deadly adversary.

Since the author’s first outing, The Drifter, I’ve been waiting and watching for each new novel.  While the plots and action are at times a little over the top, that is part and parcel of the fun and excitement each of his novels generate. Peter is always on the side of the underdog, the oppressed, and even with problems of his own, he relishes the challenges he faces along the way.

Check him out…. you won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, April 2021.

Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper @janeharperautho @Flatironbooks

The Survivors
Jane Harper
Flatiron Books, February 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-23242-7
Hardcover

Jane Harper, an Australian writer, has been making a name for herself in the past few years. Her first book, The Dry, received much acclaim, followed by Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. They are all stand-alones, set in Australia, and if you haven’t yet checked them out they are well worth a read.

The Survivors, her fourth Novel, is set in Tasmania, in a small coastal town called Evelyn Bay. It’s a popular summer resort favoured by divers who like to explore a shipwreck in the bay. Kieran, the protagonist, grew up in Evelyn Bay and has come home with his girlfriend Mia and their baby daughter Audrey to help his mother and father move to Hobart, where his father, Brian, who is suffering from dementia, will be admitted into a care facility.

Leaving baby Audrey with her grandmother, Kieran and Mia meet up with some friends at The Surf and Turf, a favourite watering hole they’d frequented in summer’s past.

The next morning, the body of a young woman is discovered on the beach. Shock reverberates through the small community stirring up memories of the time twelve years ago when a local girl had gone missing during a violent storm that hit the shores of Evelyn Bay, resulting in the drownings of several young men.

As snippets of information, together with secrets from the past, are slowly revealed the tension mounts, until it reaches its exciting conclusion.

Tasmania is a beautiful island and Evelyn Bay is a beautiful setting for this tangled but engrossing story. Past friendships are tested and as a parent now himself Kieran learns the truth of a past he’d never before come to terms with. Savour and enjoy this heart-wrenching story. You won’t regret it!

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, March 2021.

Book Review: Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner @LisaGardnerBks @DuttonBooks

Before She Disappeared
Lisa Gardner
Dutton, January 2021
ISBN 987-1-5247-4504-2
Hard Cover

Lisa Gardner is a prolific writer with an on-going mystery series with Boston Detective D.D. Warren. She’s also written several stand-alones.

Before She Disappeared is a stand-alone and well worth a read. I devoured it in a couple of days.

Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic who spends her days searching for missing people, people the police have given up searching for after months of no new info or clues. Frankie believes not being associated with the police gives her an edge, allowing her to approach family and friends of the missing person, meeting them on a less pressure-filled level, to possibly unearth a snippet of new information that might lead to a breakthrough.

She’s come to Boston, to an area known as Mattapan, the largest Haitian neighbourhood, to meet the aunt and brother of Angelique Lovelie Badeau, a teenager who, after leaving school one Friday afternoon eleven months ago hasn’t been seen since.

Frankie gets a job as a bartender at Stoney’s, a local popular hangout. The job comes with a room above the pub. Eager to get started she makes her way to the apartment where Guerline Violette, Angelique’s aunt and brother lives. After initially meeting some resistance, Guerline agrees to talk to her.

Frankie doesn’t ask for money, she only asks for truthful answers to her questions. Aware she’ll get some push back, she also insists on contacting the Detective in charge of the case. Frankie makes no bones about the fact that she might not find anything, but she begins with Angelique’s High School best friends, Kyra and Marjolie. After talking to the two girls Frankie is sure they know more than they are saying.

As her investigation proceeds, with a possible sighting of Angelique… another teenage girl goes missing raising the stakes. While Frankie steadily makes progress, she is painfully aware that there are forces working against her, who are prepared to do anything to stop her.

Frankie is a strong, brave yet conflicted woman, carrying some painful baggage she’s unwilling to share, which makes it easy to get swept along with her as she fights to uncover the truth.

Like me, you’ll probably read late into the night to the exciting conclusion.

Check it out…. You’ll be glad you did.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, February 2021.

Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman @richardosman @PamelaDormanBks

The Thursday Murder Club
A Thursday Murder Club Mystery #1
Richard Osman
A Pamela Dorman Book/Viking, September 2020
ISBN 978-1-9848-8096-3
Hardcover

This is Richard Osman’s first mystery novel and it’s getting some great reviews. He is well-known in Britain having been the host of the popular television quiz show “Pointless” for a number of years.

His foray into mystery writing has been well received and indeed the novel is up for a number of awards. I’m not surprised. I really enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club. Its setting is a retirement village in Kent called Coopers Chase and that’s where we meet Ron, Joyce, Ibrahim and Elizabeth, the members of the Thursday Murder Club.

Joyce is the newest member of the Club. She is Penny Gray’s replacement. Penny is in the nursing home, unable to communicate after a debilitating stroke. Penny was an Inspector with the Kent Police before retiring. She’d brought with her a number of unsolved case files, files the Thursday Murder Club has been working to solve.

A meeting has been called by the property owner Ian Ventham with regard to proposed changes to Coopers Chase. His plans involve expanding the community solely for the purpose of increasing his wealth. The residents are frustrated and annoyed at this development, but there appears to be little they can do.

The following morning the residents are shocked to learn that Ian Ventham has been murdered. Elizabeth, on the other hand, is excited that The Thursday Murder Club has a current crime to solve. She takes charge and with the help of the other Club members set about investigating the murder.

All the characters we meet in this charming mystery are well rounded, interesting and intelligent people. There is a good deal more to Elizabeth than meets the eye, as she and her retired friend, each with a skill to enhance the investigation, boldly involve themselves in the search to uncover the killer.

There’s much to explore and more to admire as they unravel this intriguing tale.

Check it out… you won’t regret it!!

Respectfully submitted,

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2021.

Book Review: The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly @Connellybooks @littlebrown

The Law of Innocence
A Lincoln Lawyer Novel #6
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company, November 2020
ISBN 978-0-316-48562-3
Hardcover

When Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer, is pulled over by the police after leaving a bar, he’s sure there’s nothing to worry about. But the cop seems intent on asserting his authority, telling Mickey his license plate is missing. Surprised, Mickey exits the vehicle, but when he’s asked to open his trunk he’s reluctant, sensing something’s up. He complies and that’s when things get decidedly worse. There’s a dead body in the trunk, a body that belongs to an old client of Mickey’s, a client who’d owed him money.

Because he’s a well-known lawyer with a reputation for getting criminals off, Haller isn’t exactly loved by the L.A. Police. He’s handcuffed, taken into custody and charged with murder. Bail is set at 5 Million and Mickey, opting to defend himself, is confident, with the help of his trusted team, he can sort this out. Housed meantime in downtown L.A,’s Correctional Facility, he is somewhat of a thorn in the eyes of the local Police and silently acknowledges that the DA, a long time adversary, is both confident and determined to make the charges stick.

Mickey’s in a difficult situation. He must exonerate himself, otherwise this charge will forever hang over him. He’s been framed, and working from his jail cell to prove his innocence is no easy task. His team, including his half brother Harry Bosch and his ex-wife, begin to investigate the charge intent on uncovering the real murderer.

The stakes are high and time is of the essence. He’s also aware of a threat to his own safety, not only from fellow prisoners, but also the guards. He has to use all his skills to walk a fine line and stay within the boundaries of the law.

Connelly does a masterful job of taking us through the investigation process, following leads that at times take him nowhere. Personally I would have liked to see more of Bosch, but of course he does get his own spotlight in the novel – Fair Warning.

This is another winner for Connelly and not to be missed…

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, December 2020.

Book Review: His and Hers by Alice Feeney @alicewriterland @Flatironbooks

His & Hers
Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books, July 2020
E-Book

The Title – His and Hers –  refers to the book’s two main characters.

Hers:  Anna Andrews, a newsreader, divorced and living and working in London, with a troubled past.

His:    Detective Chief Inspector Jack Harper who lives and works in the small English village of Blackdown where he grew up.

We are introduced to these two characters in separate chapters at the beginning and throughout this rather unusual and intriguing novel.

When the body of a young woman is found in Blackdown Woods, Detective Chief Inspector Jack Harper is called to the scene.

Anna Andrews, who has recently been taken off her job as newsreader, is asked to travel to Blackdown to cover the murder. She is somewhat reluctant to go.  Anna grew up in Blackdown, her mother still lives there, but Anna hasn’t seen her in months and the village holds no good memories for her.

The murder victim, Rachel Hopkins, is known to both Anna and Jack,  a fact neither wants revealed.  But as the investigation unfolds the reader is privy to both Anna’s and Jack’s take on the murder. It isn’t long before the connections between Jack and Rachel and Anna and Rachel  surface, casting suspicions on both of them.

This twisted tale is full of surprises and more victims before it reaches an exciting and dramatic climax.  But even there the tale isn’t quite over…

You’ll have to check this one out… You’ll be glad you did.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2020.