Book Review: Medallion of Murder by BR Myers

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Title: Medallion of Murder
Series: A Nefertari Hughes Mystery #3
Author: BR Myers
Publisher: Blue Moon Publishers
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

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Purchase Link:
Amazon

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Medallion of Murder
A Nefertari Hughes Mystery #3
BR Myers
Blue Moon Publishers, September 2018
Ebook

From the publisher—

Still struggling with nightmares from the past summer, Terry tries to bury her secret guilt and enjoy her family’s first Christmas in Devonshire. But when a murdered man is found with a postcard addressed to her, Terry fears the repercussions from that fateful night in Egypt are becoming a reality.

After she receives a coded message from Awad, Terry and her best friend Maude are thrown into the hunt for a lost medallion, an artifact that possesses a great power—and a gruesome destiny. As each clue leads to more disturbing truths (and bodies), Terry begins to suspect she’s the real target of the search. When Awad goes missing, she becomes certain the Illuminati are involved, and has no choice but to risk losing the thing she cherishes the most to get him back.

But Terry will soon discover the secrets of the tomb cannot be erased by distance or power, because the ghosts of her past are closing in quickly… and this time, they refuse to stay buried.

Nefertari Hughes is a most remarkable young woman. Wearing a prosthesis is no hindrance to her nor does she let the loss of her leg dampen her enthusiasm for life and she’s already ready for adventure. That’s a good thing because, once again, Terry and her friends are drawn into a deep mystery with tones of the supernatural, Terry fearing that a murder is somehow tied to deadly events that took place in Egypt.

Terry, who has some superhuman abilities, and her friend Maude throw themselves into the hunt for a killer and for a medallion that holds special powers. Meanwhile, bodies pile up and her Egyptian friend, Awad, goes missing after leaving a few clues and Terry’s nightmares about those events in Egypt continue to plague her. Then there’s that mural somebody painted under a bridge…Tangentially, Terry and her boyfriend, Zach, have to deal with day-to-day issues that confront teens but the hunt takes precedence.

This is a series that I think is best read in order, especially because there is not a lot of backstory offered to bring a new reader up to date. I do think it’s unfortunate, though, that readers who choose not to buy books from Amazon or read on a kindle have no options; while many small press and independent authors’ books can be found in some version, paper or electronic, on multiple platforms, this series is only available on kindle. I hope that Ms. Myers and her publisher will at least offer her potential fans—for this is a very good series—paperback editions in Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and independent bookstores.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2018.

Update: print editions are available at Indigo and Amazon.ca and will be listed soon at Amazon.

About the Author

Always in the mood for a good scare, B.R. Myers spent most of her teen years behind the covers of Lois Duncan, Ray Bradbury, and Stephen King. Her YA contemporary coming of age novel, GIRL ON THE RUN, was chosen by the Canadian Children’s Book Centre as a BEST BOOK for TEENS for 2016.

When she’s not putting her characters in awkward situations, she works as a registered nurse. A member of the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia, she lives in Halifax with her husband and two children—and there is still a stack of books on her bedside table.

Author links:  Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads

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Book Reviews: A Strange Scottish Shore by Juliana Gray and The Gardener’s Secret by Jamie Cortland

A Strange Scottish Shore
Emmeline Truelove #2
Juliana Gray
Berkley, September 2017
ISBN 978-0-425-277089
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Scotland, 1906. A mysterious object discovered inside an ancient castle calls Maximilian Haywood, the new Duke of Olympia, and his fellow researcher Emmeline Truelove north to the remote Orkney Islands. No stranger to the study of anachronisms in archeological digs, Haywood is nevertheless puzzled by the artifact: a suit of clothing that, according to family legend, once belonged to a selkie who rose from the sea and married the castle’s first laird.
 
But Haywood and Truelove soon realize they’re not the only ones interested in the selkie’s strange hide. When their mutual friend Lord Silverton vanishes in the night from an Edinburgh street, their quest takes a dangerous turn through time, which puts Haywood’s extraordinary talents—and Truelove’s courage—to their most breathtaking test yet.

After Miss Emmeline Truelove sets off by train to Scotland to join her employer and colleague, Max Haywood, the late Queen Victoria appears, not an unusual occurrence, to warn her that she’s being followed, no surprise to Emmeline. Then, her friend and would-be suitor, Marquess Frederick Silverton, boards the same train and chases after the stranger who jumps off. Clearly, we’re off on an adventure.

An odd man named Hunter Spillane later disappears after attacking Emmeline and Max at a house party in Scotland. When James Magnusson, Earl of Thurso, shows them a box found in a castle’s ruins, the mystery deepens and yet holds a hint of their own recent past. Affairs of the heart and Emmeline’s visions of her deceased father and the late Queen add to the mystery they must solve without undue attention from others.

In a blend of mystery and fantasy, people literally come and go through centuries in a time-traveling kind of vortex as the puzzle begins to come clear and a beautiful woman named Helen tells an incredible tale. The story itself is highly entertaining but it’s the various characters who really engaged me and kept me turning pages. Now, I need to find the first book and do some catching up.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2017.

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The Gardener’s Secret
Jamie Cortland
World Castle Publishing, June 2017
ISBN 978-1629897318
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When Vince Giardini is believed to have perished in a plane crash over the Rockies, his beautiful wife, Dannie, becomes the target of handsome and charismatic, Eddie Haywood who is a psychopath with a borderline personality disorder. After discovering she needs a gardener and a handyman to care for her mansion on AIA, he applies for the position.

As his fascination with her intensifies, he vows to make her his one way or another and he begins to stalk her. Danni knows she is being stalked, especially after the break-in. Alone, without Vince, she has no one to save her from Eddie’s devious plans except her friends, Sal Catalano, her husband’s partner and Peter Langley.

A plane crash sets the tone for this tale that drips menace on the page, particularly when Eddie Haywood sets his sights on Danni Giardini. Eddie is the kind of man who makes women shudder, not only because we know what he is but also because of his public persona that keeps his nature hidden. It’s the kind of facade that we fear because it’s so easy to not really see the monster beneath.

Occasional inconsistencies pulled me out of the story such as the time when Danni rushes to meet her friend, Lainey, because she’s late for their lunch date but she stops at a coffee shop and reads part of the newspaper. Also, Danni can be annoying, with a sense of entitlement that comes from being rich and bored. Another example is when Sal, Vince’s partner, flies from Denver to Palm Beach hoping to give the bad news to Danni before the airline does. Why on earth would anyone do that, knowing a telephone call is almost certainly going to reach her first? As it turns out, there was no help for it since she was away from her home and her phone but he didn’t know that. There’s also a scene in which a pregnant woman drinks wine and there’s no indication from her or the man with her that this is just a once a week thing.

Despite content and editing flaws of this sort, the tale moves along, building suspense about the missing man, the one who wants to do harm and, eventually, a murdered woman. Tension rachets up a few chapters in and, for the rest of the book, the main thing that threw me off was something that I expect might be more common in romance books than in the genres I’m used to. I can’t say what it is without spoiling but it had to do with the interactions of certain characters and, since I rarely read romance per se, I’m not holding it against The Gardener’s Secret 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2017.

Book Reviews: Eden Summer by Liz Flanagan and Longbow Girl by Linda Davies

Eden Summer
Liz Flanagan
David Fickling Books, July 2017
ISBN 978-1-338-12120-9
Hardcover

Words are influential, able to constructively and destructively affect both the speaker and the audience. Final words feel eerily efficacious; especially when there is absolutely no expectation that they are indeed, last words. Vicious, venomous verbalizations can compound an already catastrophic event. In and of itself, crippling in its cruel randomness; devastating and gut-wrenching when choked with guilt.

A cloud of culpability completely cloaked the sun inside of Eden just as its rays tentatively began to reach out again.  Regret remained whenever she recalled begging her bestie, Jess, to walk her to the bus stop in a dismal downpour months ago.  Of course, she did not commit the heinous hate-crime, nor could she have stopped it; but that knowledge isn’t enough to alleviate feeling at fault.

Being the best nurse-cheerleader-therapist-buddy that she could be, Eden was instrumental in Jess’s healing and found that she was also helping herself move forward and focus on the important matters.  After all, she is a normal teen girl and she did catch the eye of the admittedly adorable Liam that Jess was always talking about.

Liam and Jess, comfortable chums and coffee-shop coworkers, both love Eden with the all-encompassing, unconditional, wholly-heart-felt love of fierce friendship. The bond built from “…looking after Eden all summer.” seems strong enough to support Eden indefinitely, until she disappears.  Will their devotion, even when paired with resilient determination and dogged belief, be enough to find Eden?

“She’d gone inside herself, somewhere a long way down, and I didn’t know how to follow.”

Wonderfully woven with stunning, unique, yet complimentary, threads; Eden Summer is a familiar, but fresh fabric.  Ms. Flanagan’s finesse in tackling two terrifying topics results in a relatable, engaging read that is as enjoyable as it is significant. Fast-paced with flashbacks filling in details, the story quickly captivates and keeps hold, even after “the end”.

Reviewed by jv poore, June 2017.

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Longbow Girl
Linda Davies
Chicken House, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-85345-3
Hardcover

One of the coolest things about Longbow Girl is that while the events happen in present day, one character lives in an actual castle and another on a working farm; so it feels a bit like it is set in the past.  A pretty groovy way of lending an authentic feel to a story entrenched in history.

When an old tomb is inadvertently uncovered, Merry discovers an old book that appears to be one of the tomes from the Middle Welsh collection known as Mabinogion.  Although some folks believe whole-heartedly that the narratives are filled with truths, many others insist there are only myths.  Either way, there is no argument as to the value of the text.  Merry’s find may be the very thing to save the farm that has been the life and heart of her family for more than seven hundred years.

Of course there are challenges with having the artifact authenticated and obstacles in the way of proving it was found on her family’s land.  Weighing heavier than the legal red tape is the unshakable feeling that disturbing the grave will exact a higher price than the book could bring.  Nothing about this “solution” is sure or easy.

Fortunately, Merry is vibrant, fierce, cunning, and strong.  Often, a heroine struggles to come to terms; drum up courage to conquer that which seems insurmountable. Merry does not.  It’s not that she’s oblivious.   For her, doing the right thing is intuitive.  She is aware of the risks and possible loss, personally; but that is of small consequence when compared to the potential greater good for the masses.

Longbow Girl is a spectacular smash-up of Historical Fiction, Action and Adventure, Mystery and Suspense, with a shot of Science Fiction that features heroes, heroines and horses and touches on relatable social issues, family feuds and friendships.  And that’s just a few of the things that I dearly loved about it.

Reviewed by jv poore, November 2016.

Book Reviews: Cop Town by Karin Slaughter, The Thieves of Legend by Richard Doetsch, and Cabin Fever by James M. Jackson

Cop TownCop Town
Karin Slaughter
Delacorte Press, June 2014
ISBN No. 978-0-345-54749-1
Hardcover

Kate Murphy is a young widow from a well-to-do family. Her husband was killed in the service and Kate has made the decision to join the Atlanta Police Force. Her first day on the job leaves her wondering if she has made an error in judgment and needs to rethink her decision.

Nothing is easy on the first day. The legs on her uniform are too long; her cap is too big and falls down in her face and her shoes fall off with every step. It seems the Atlanta PD could care less if the uniform fits the female officers. The male officers enjoy painting a penis on the women’s bathrooms and the colored women police officers have a separate dressing room divided by a curtain.

The Atlanta PD is full of racism and very few new officers, particularly women, meet the criteria necessary to gain respect. Kate is partnered with Maggie Lawson. Maggie has a brother and an uncle on the force, neither of which treat Maggie with much respect. Maggie tries to give Kate a few tips as far as work is concerned but neither woman feel their partnership will be a success.

Immediately the pair are thrown into the investigation of the death of another police officer. Maggie’s brother, Jimmy Lawson, was partnered with the officer killed and managed to carry him all the way to the hospital even though he was also hurt.

It is suspected that a criminal called “The Shooter” is the one killing the officers. Each time a cop is killed the situation seems to have been set up in the same way. Maggie and Kate hook up with a black police officer, Gail Patterson, who agrees to help them locate a pimp that Maggie feels has some information they can use. The three get the information but more trouble than they signed up for.

Cop Town is an exciting book that is difficult to put down. I’ve read all of Karin Slaughter‘s novels and she has long been one of my favorite authors. This novel is a standalone but I am hoping that I might be reading more about Maggie and Kate in the future.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, July 2014.

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The Thieves of LegendThe Thieves of Legend
Richard Doetsch
Atria Books, November 2012

ISBN978-1-4165-9898-5
Hardcover

Master thief Michael St. Pierre is blackmailed into stealing an ancient artifact hidden several stories beneath the royal palace in the heart of the Forbidden City. His ex-girlfriend, KC Ryan, also a master thief, is under the same duress to steal a second part of the artifact located in a different area of China.

Michael has five days before the U.S. Army Colonel behind the blackmail says he’ll kill KC.  KC has the same kind of deal with the female assassin set to guard her. Michael’s and KC’s lives depend on each being successful. Meanwhile they’ll need to contend not only with Chinese Triads, but with more than one madman. Fortunately, Michael has a couple good friends willing to do almost anything the help protect him and KC, and prevent the artifact from falling into the wrong hands.

Lots of violence here, and just when you think one of the bad guys has been eliminated, he pops up again like an unkillable weed.

The well-developed characters are brilliant, as Michael and his friends, Simon and Busch, as well as KC prove as they work through a convoluted puzzle. They’re also goodlooking, and tremendously athletic.

The action is non-stop, the plotting clever with a delicious mystery at the center. The setting moves from country to country, from land to sea, and the tension never ceases to ramp up.

Mr. Doetsch, who states he loves research, has included a historical character, a certain Zheng He, in the story, which adds a nice touch and whets one’s appetite to learn more about him.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, May 2014.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

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Cabin FeverCabin Fever 
A Seamus McCree Mystery
James M. Jackson
Barking Rain Press, April 2014
ISBN:978-1-935460-90-9
Trade Paperback

Several terrific and unusual characters. An unusual and intriguing plot line. A not-so-popular worthwhile setting. Smart dialogue. Those are all the good elements of this novel which features one of the most cranky and short-tempered protagonists this reviewer has ever encountered. Seamus McCree is a brilliant financial forensic analyst. He works for a non-profit that offers security and financial crimes examinations to banks and similar institutions.

He’s spending time recuperating from his last violent encounter in the cold winter woods of the Michigan Upper Peninsula. It gets really cold up there. It’s about -40 when he discovers a naked woman half-frozen on the unheated porch of his cabin. Nursing her away from death begins to reveal an intriguing plot.

Now we get to the questionable and not-so-good parts. Everybody in the book speaks sometimes from their personal point of view. That includes the author-narrator. That can be confusing at times. And it sometimes takes the narrative off on wandering paths through tangled underbrush and that slows the pace when we need a little more push, not less.

Then there is the formatting. Traditional rules of formatting say you either indent paragraphs or you insert a blank line between them, but not both. Moreover, in fiction, readers expect indents, not spaces. I suggest, if readers let that and some other formatting anomalies bother them, they’ll miss an enjoyable reading experience. Generally well-written, there are some logical lapses that made me grind my teeth. In the aggregate however, in spite of a lot of murders, I found that my time reading Cabin Fever was worthwhile.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2014.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.