Book Review: Murder at Pelican Lake by Marjorie Mathison Hance @BPPress

Murder at Pelican Lake
Marjorie Mathison Hance
Beaver’s Pond Press, January 2018
ISBN 978-1-59298-610-1
Trade Paperback

Here we have a sort of semi-traditional story, not quite a cozy, set in a small lake-side community with some terrorizing incidents, a little non-explicit sex, and a variety of meaningful, warm and logical relationships.

We also have a carefully crafted mystery surrounding a sometimes lonely career woman, Carley Norgren. The setting is one of Minnesota’s prettiest lakes, surrounded by sand beaches, pines and small cabins, many owned for generations by the same families. It is here, to the cabin built by Carley’s grand-parents, that she retreats after her job in Minneapolis is abolished. At almost the same time, her lover and she have separated and her life seems to be in ruins. So Carley retreats, amid languid summer days, to recoup and recover at the lake. She has no plans, so life has a way of filling the empty spaces, but she is a strong woman and we sense early on that she will recover. Carley lands in the middle of strange and unusual goings on.

A local teen goes missing, a stranger out of the blue asks to copy certain pages from her deceased father’s research and her pet dog and bird seem at times to experience mysterious or unsettling vibrations. Then, late one night while she kayaks alone on the quiet lake, she encounters men dumping something in deep water.

All these events, strategically woven into the narrative, lead readers along step by step to surprising revelations and a satisfying conclusion. All in all a good, nicely designed and written mystery for warm summer days relaxing on the beach and carrying good binoculars for observation of life along Pelican Lake.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Traces by Carl Brookins—and a Giveaway! @carlbrookins @BPPress

Traces
Carl Brookins
Beaver’s Pond Press, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-64343-897-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Mystery, danger, and international intrigue confront Lockem and Kane in their second high-stakes adventure, Traces. As we wander through life, we leave evidence of our passing: footprints, DNA, connections with others. Our trails are sometimes large and vibrant, often pale and uncertain. Marjorie Kane is a retired exotic dancer who, after years of headlining in upscale venues, gradually descends into performing in meaner clubs. Looking for new adventures, she meets Alan Lockem, a retired army intelligence officer interested in continued service. Together, Lockem and Kane take on unusual and sometimes dangerous jobs to help troubled civilians and former colleagues. When Lockem is asked to retrieve a flash drive storing military records, it seems simple enough. But encounters with foreign spies, an armed home invasion, and interactions with international, federal, and local police complicate Lockem and Kane’s efforts to unravel and understand the traces of these crimes and aid their old colleagues across the pond.

When I met Marjorie Kane and Alan Lockem in their first adventure (see my 2018 review of Grand Lac), I was really drawn to this couple who are so unique and, yet, so very normal. Marjorie, in particular, naturally attracts a reader’s attention merely by her past as an exotic dancer but the point of this duo is that, like many people, they’ve reinvented themselves in their later years and they’ve done so successfully and with panache, not to mention taking much pleasure in their new lives as private investigators of a sort.

This time, Lockem and Kane set out on what should have been a fairly uneventful job but turns out to be their own personal spy thriller. Who could have guessed that Minnesota could be a hotbed of international intrigue and military secrets along with some serious danger for our investigators, these people who could be any happy, comfortable couple in any middle class neighborhood?

This is where backgrounds and life experiences come into play and Lockem and Kane prove themselves to be resilient and up to the task at hand. These are intelligent people with more than a little street smarts and that’s why I like them so much, along with a hefty dose of just plain likeability. Mr. Brookins has crafted a story full of interesting twists and a pair of protagonists I hope will be back with many more adventures 😃

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2020.

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Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a
paperback copy of Traces,
leave a comment below. The
winning name will be drawn on
Monday evening, November 23rd.
Open to the US and Canada.