Book Review: The Innkeeper’s Sister by Linda Goodnight

The Innkeeper’s Sister
A Honey Ridge Novel #3
Linda Goodnight
HQN Books, July 2017
ISBN 978-0-373-79947-3
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Welcome to Honey Ridge, Tennessee, where Southern hospitality and sweet peach tea beckon, and where long-buried secrets lead to some startling realizations…

Grayson Blake always has a purpose—and never a moment to lose. He’s come home to Honey Ridge to convert a historic gristmill into a restaurant, but his plans crumble like Tennessee clay when the excavation of a skeleton unearths a Civil War mystery…and leads him back to a beautiful and familiar stranger.

Once a ballet dancer, now co-owner of the Peach Orchard Inn, Valery Carter harbors pain as deep as the secrets buried beneath the mill. A bright facade can’t erase her regrets any more than a glass of bourbon can restore what she’s lost. But spending time with Grayson offers Valery a chance to let go of her past and imagine a happier future. And with the discovery of hidden messages in aged sheet music, both their hearts begin to open. Bound by attraction, and compelled to resolve an old crime that links the inn and the mill, Grayson and Valery encounter a song of hurt, truth…and hope.

In a nicely flowing blend of past and present, two stories intertwine after a skeleton is found beneath the old gristmill. Both stories revolve around a missing child, one a slave sold away from his family and white friend, the other Valery’s nephew, abducted years ago. Could these bones belong to that child, Mikey? The possibility sends Valery into a maelstrom of new grief as well as guilt that have lain just under the surface all this time, but it’s just as likely that this is someone else, someone from the farm’s Civil War-era family.

Secrets abound in both times and, in some ways, love is what holds the families together, if only by a thread. To be sure, the mystery of the discovered bones needs to be solved, but the growing connection between Valery and Grayson may very well bring the peace they so need. At the same time, the inn, once a farm, has its own colorful and emotion-wrought history and it’s the past and present of Peach Orchard that caught my attention the most.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2017.

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Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Books-A-Million
Amazon // Indiebound

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About the Author

NY Times and USA Bestseller, Linda Goodnight writes novels to touch the heart as well as to entertain. Her emotional stories of hope have won the RITA, the Carol, the Reviewer’s Choice, and numerous other industry awards. A small town girl, Linda remains close to her roots, making her home in rural Oklahoma. She and husband have a blended family of eight, including two teenagers recently adopted from Ukraine. Many of her books are about family and children and rightly so, as she draws her deeply emotional stories from her surroundings, her great love of family, and from personal experiences as a nurse and teacher.

Connect with Linda:

WebsiteFacebook | Twitter

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Follow the tour:

Tuesday, July 11th: Mama Vicky Says – excerpt

Wednesday, July 12th: The Sassy Bookster – excerpt

Thursday, July 13th: Books a la Mode – excerpt

Friday, July 14th: Reading is My SuperPower – excerpt

Monday, July 17th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – excerpt

Tuesday, July 18th: Black ‘n Gold Girls Book Spot – excerpt

Thursday, July 20th: Dwell in Possibility – excerpt

Monday, July 24th: Reading is My SuperPower

Tuesday, July 25th: Reading Reality

Wednesday, July 26th: Written Love Reviews

Thursday, July 27th: Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers

Friday, July 28th: Broken Teepee

Monday, July 31st: Rebel Mommy Book Blog

Tuesday, August 1st: Patricia’s Wisdom

Tuesday, August 1st: Let Them Read Books

Wednesday, August 2nd: Buried Under Books

Thursday, August 3rd: Just Commonly

Friday, August 4th: Books & Bindings

Monday, August 7th: The Romance Dish

Tuesday, August 8th: All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

Wednesday, August 9th: A. Holland Reads

Friday, August 11th: From the TBR Pile

Monday, August 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book

Tuesday, August 15th: Becky on Books

Wednesday, August 16th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, August 17th: Steph the Bookworm

TBD: Books and Spoons – excerpt

TBD: Book Mama Blog – excerpt

TBD: A Chick Who Reads – excerpt

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Book Review: One Kick by Chelsea Cain

One KickOne Kick
A Kick Lannigan Novel
Chelsea Cain
Simon & Schuster, August 2014
IBSN 978-1-4767-4978-5
Hardcover

The author is an experienced, acclaimed thriller writer. This eighth novel is the debut of yet another protagonist for her. As a big thriller with a hot, tough, protagonist, Elizabeth (Kick) Lannigan, deals with one of the nastier aspects of our society, pedophilia and child abduction, and this novel is destined for highly popular ranking.

It’s been called brilliant, outstanding, and masterful. I agree. I particularly enjoy the voice of the author, her writing style is unusual and slick. Which is not to say the book is smoothly written. The plot, on the other hand, is truly original and masterfully conceived, developed and resolved. The main characters are nicely handled and with some exceptions develop appropriately. The structure of the novel is excellent. The prologue avoids revealing too much so we are intrigued, wonder about significant omissions and are pulled into the story. We want to know more about this girl, rescued by the FBI after many years of captivity and forced bondage. This is not a novel for the faint of heart.

Kick Lannigan was abducted as a child, forced into unspeakable circumstances. After her rescue she becomes an avenging angel, determined to help wipe out an international network of child stealers and molesters. She learns and teaches herself more ways to kill than is possible to recall. She prides herself on physical agility and toughness of mind. Yet she is apparently seriously deficient in her ability to retain control of some dangerous situations, situations which result in grievous injury and, not incidentally, propel the plot into interesting episodes.

The novel is a fast read, well-thought-out and carefully concluded. Still there were times when I wanted to grab Lannigan by the neck and shout at her when I saw her letting down her guard, making mistakes that, in real life, would have undoubtedly resulted in instant termination.

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

Book Review: The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

The Vanishing Point
Val McDermid
Atlantic Monthly Press, October 2012
ISBN 9780802120526
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Young Jimmy Higgins is snatched from an airport security checkpoint while his guardian watches helplessly from the glass inspection box. But this is no ordinary abduction, as Jimmy is no ordinary child. His mother was Scarlett, a reality TV star who, dying of cancer and alienated from her unreliable family, entrusted the boy to the person she believed best able to give him a happy, stable life: her ghost writer, Stephanie Harker. Assisting the FBI in their attempt to recover the missing boy, Stephanie reaches into the past to uncover the motive for the abduction. Has Jimmy been taken by his own relatives? Is Stephanie’s obsessive ex-lover trying to teach her a lesson? Has one of Scarlett’s stalkers come back to haunt them all?

There are certain authors I always can count on to provide me with an excellent read, a brief escape into a world I can laugh at or be mesmerized by, a world that shakes me to the core for one reason or another. I understand, though, that many of those authors whose work I admire so much might stumble now and then. The Vanishing Point is Val McDermid‘s stumble.

Ms. McDermid is a wonderful writer—I have enjoyed everything of hers I’ve read until this one—and even this has some redeeming aspects. It’s not a BAD book; it just doesn’t rise to the level of her usual top notch work and that becomes evident early in the story.

Most of the disappointment I had was in regard to the credibility of the story. For a woman who shows a lot of inner strength and is clearly able to take care of herself, Stephanie seems too insecure, beyond what could be attributed to her past relationship. More importantly, what happens in the airport just isn’t believable enough. Stephanie knows she will have to be screened or patted down because of the metal in her leg so why wouldn’t she make sure the child stayed close by? As much as we, the public, dislike the behavior of a few TSA employees (and as much as we may hate the whole system), I have a hard time believing they would so totally dismiss her screams for help when she sees what’s happening. And, when it becomes obvious that time is critical, no FBI agent would allow Stephanie to go on and on with the backstory, nor would Stephanie want to blather on while little is being done to find Jimmy. The last straw for me was when I realized that she was inexplicably hesitant to tell the FBI agent about the person who is very likely to be behind the kidnapping.

Unfortunately, with such plot holes early on, I found it hard to engage with the story or even take it as seriously as such a topic deserves but I did finish the book, hoping Ms. McDermid would pull it together. To a certain extent, she did, but the twist ending was too little too late.  I have no doubt the author will get back on track with the next book and I’m certainly going to look forward to it but, sadly, this one is not a keeper for me.  Our reactions to books are very personal, though, and many of her devoted readers will like it.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2012.

Book Reviews: I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd, The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis, and Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase

I’d Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
William Morrow Paperbacks,
ISBN 978-0062070753
Trade Paperback

Eliza Benedict and her family have recently moved back to the United States after living several years in England.  The move was brought about by Eliza’s husband’s employment.  The children are just adjusting to the move. Eliza’s daughter Isobel (Iso) and her son Albie are in new schools and attempting to get used to life in the states after being gone so long.

Eliza’s ordinary life is suddenly interrupted when she receives a letter from Walter Bowman, a death row inmate.  Walter had spotted Eliza’s picture in a magazine and his letter states “I’d know you anywhere”.  Walter had kidnapped Eliza when she was only 15 years old.  Walter held Eliza hostage for40 days before she was finally released.  This is a part of Eliza’s life that she hasn’t shared with her children.

Eliza’s full name was Elizabeth Hortense Lerner prior to her marriage.  After her abduction, her parents moved and she entered a new school under the name of Eliza.  Only her parents, her sister Vonnie and Eliza’s husband are aware of the past circumstances until a woman who has taken up Walter’s cause finds Eliza and encourages her to talk to Walter.  Eliza finally decides after discussing the matter with her husband that she will speak with Walter. She installs a new telephone line and instructs Walter that the only hours she will be willing to answer the phone is during the time her children are away at school.  Walter wants Eliza to visit him on death row.  Eliza isn’t the only girl he kidnapped but she is the one who lived.  He indicates if she will only visit him, he will reveal information to her about the other that he has previously refused to discuss.

The story of the kidnapping is told in flashbacks.  It seems there were many times Eliza had the opportunity to escape but fear that Walter would carry out his threats to harm Eliza’s family held her back.  Eliza remembers the many days she was held by Walter and her methods of coping with a horrible situation.

This is a book that I very much enjoyed and would highly recommend.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Marcus Sakey
Dutton, June 2011
ISBN 978-0525952114
Hardcover

The story begins with Daniel Hayes washed up on the beach, half dead and thousands of miles away from home.  Daniel is alone except for a car parked on the beach and abandoned.  Of course, Daniel has no idea that he is Daniel Hayes.  He has amnesia and no idea of how he arrived in the water off the coast of Maine.  The car is a BMW.  The registration says Daniel Hayes.  The clothes in the trunk happen to fit.  The gun in the glove compartment is a big surprise.  With no other options, he starts driving the BMW headed across the country. The registration says California so that is his destination.  Is he Daniel Hayes or someone that just washed up on the beach and lucked into a good car with clothes, cash, maps and even a nice Rolex watch.  He wonders how he knew the watch was a Rolex and was surprised he liked the taste of the whiskey left in the car.  With no other options available at the moment, he decides he will be Daniel Hayes – at least until he finds out something different.

As he tries to retrace his life, he finds many surprises.    He has a wife but she is dead.   Or is she dead?  That is just another story he needs to unravel.  As Daniel struggles to make sense of his life, he finds himself right in the middle of a situation that is extremely dangerous but not one that he fully understands.

The struggles Daniel goes through to regain his memory and understand his life that went before he wound up half dead on a beach in Maine is a thriller that keeps the reader on edge up to the very last page.

Marcus Sakey’s previous novels have been very successful and this one is sure to be a winner.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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A Bitter Truth
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
William  Morrow and Company, August 2011
ISBN No. 978-0062015709
Hardcover

Bess Crawford is a nurse currently stationed in France.  When she is granted leave to return to England for the Christmas holidays she welcomes the break from the war zone and looks forward to visiting her family.  Bess shares an apartment with some other nurses and it is not uncommon for her to have the place to herself since her roommates all have assignments.  Upon arriving at her apartment building, Bess finds a young woman huddled in the doorway.  The woman is well dressed and appears to be bruised as well as suffering from the cold.    Her clothing is not designed to keep her warm.  Bess convinces the woman to take refuge in her apartment.

The young woman finally confides in Bess that her name is Lydia Ellis and she resides in Sussex.  She had quarreled with her husband, Captain Roger Ellis, and Captain Ellis had struck her.    Eventually after hearing bits and pieces of Lydia’s story Bess convinced her to return to her home in Sussex and attempt to work out her problems.  Lydia’s husband was home on compassionate leave due to the illness of his brother Alan.  Alan had recently passed away.

Lydia begged Bess to return to Sussex with her to Vixen Hill the Ellis family home.  Bess agrees although Simon Brandon was not thrilled with the idea. Simon is a long time family friend who had served with Bess’ father and is very protective of Bess.  On arrival at Vixen Hill, Bess finds that plans are underway for a memorial service for Alan and family members are gathering.  Bess learns of the tragic death of Roger’s young sister years ago, a death from which none of the family seems to have completely recovered.

Soon there is another death to be investigated when a friend of the family who was staying at Vixen Hill is found murdered.  Bess is drawn into the investigation and soon learns more about the family than she ever wanted to know. Lydia has heard rumors that her husband had a child with a woman in France and that the child is the image of his dead sister.  Lydia begs Bess to look for the child when she returns to France.

Bess makes no promises but when she returns to France, she does make inquiries.  Bess confides in a soldier from Australia who takes up the search for the child.  In war torn France there are hundreds of orphans and many of the Sisters carrying for them have to move from place to place due to the war.

The story jumps back and forth between the war front and England and there is no lack of excitement on either front.  This is a good addition to the Bess Crawford mysteries and there is more than one puzzle to solve.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2011.

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The Boy In the Suitcase
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis
Soho Crime, November 2011
ISBN 978-1569479810
Hardcover

When Nina Borg, a nurse, agrees to do her friend Karin a favor and pick up a suitcase from a locker in the Copenhagen train station, she thought it would be a simple errand. The errand turned out to be far from simple and extremely dangerous.  When Nina opened the suitcase, she found a small boy, naked and drugged.  Should she call the police and turn the child over to the authorities?  This is the question she kept asking herself but finally determined that the authorities might not do what was in the boy’s best interest.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, Sigita was frantic.  Sigita woke up in a hospital with no idea how she got there but is told that she was found in a drunken state after falling down the steps from her apartment.  All Sigita knew was that she did not drink to excess, she has no memory of drinking or falling and her child, Mikas, is gone.  A neighbor tells Sigita that the boy’s father had picked him up but when Sigita is finally able to reach Mikas’ father she finds that he knows nothing about where his son might be.

Nina finally finds out where Karin is and goes to meet her.  When Nina gets to the cabin where Karin is staying, she finds that Karin has been murdered.  There is no clue as to the boy’s identity or why Karin asked Nina to pick up the suitcase.   Nina is quick to realize that agreeing to do a favor for a friend has placed both her and the boy in danger.

The story turns into a race against time with Nina trying to find any clue to help her identify the boy and return him to his family while ignoring her own husband and children who are concerned for Nina’s whereabouts.

Sigita who has reported her child’s loss to the authorities goes about her own investigation into his disappearance and is doing everything she can think of to find her son even though she senses that time is running out.  Sigita was forced to give up her first baby and now to think of losing her son is too horrible to imagine.

The puzzle of why Mikas was abducted and the purpose behind the abduction is one that remains a secret until the surprise ending of this novel.  Finally, it all comes together and makes for a very exciting book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, November 2011.

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

Dark Mind
An Emily Stone Novel
Jennifer Chase
JEC Press, November 2011
ISBN No.978-0982953648
Trade Paperback

This third addition to the Emily Stone series finds Emily and Rick Lopez on the beautiful island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.  Rick has given up his position as a police officer to join Emily in her undercover operation tracking serial killers with the emphasis on child abductors.  Emily was a former police officer.

Rick and Emily are able to rescue a child that was kidnapped by slave brokers.  When the police arrive at the scene, the couple meets Sergeant Lani Candena of the local police department.

The couple feel their trip has been successful and decide to stay on the island and enjoy a little vacation time.  It isn’t long before they hear rumors of a vicious murder.  Rick and Emily go to the scene of the crime and wait for the police to leave. Rick and Emily take a look at the scene.  Once again they run up against Sergeant Lani Candena of the of the local police department.

Lani is an ambitious officer and when there is a second murder, he feels sure that he has a serial killer on his hands.  The killings are staged in a horrible manner and Emily and Rick are convinced the killer must be a local resident.  Lani’s superior officers in the department are more interested in making a profit for themselves in the shady deals they are involved in than finding the killer.

Derek McGraw, an old friend of Rick and Emily, joins the couple on the island.  The three of them work on putting the few clues they have been able to put together in an attempt to locate the killer.  Sgt. Candena is aware that the trio is very interested in the murders.  He eventually convinces the group to work with him in an attempt to hunt down the killer.

The action in Dark Mind is non-stop.   Emily is lucky to survive the hunt.  This novel can be read as a stand-alone but I would also recommend Compulsion and Dead Game, the two previous Emily Stone novels.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2012.

Book Reviews: I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd, The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis, and Dark Mind by Jennifer Chase

I’d Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman
William Morrow Paperbacks,
ISBN 978-0062070753
Trade Paperback

Eliza Benedict and her family have recently moved back to the United States after living several years in England.  The move was brought about by Eliza’s husband’s employment.  The children are just adjusting to the move. Eliza’s daughter Isobel (Iso) and her son Albie are in new schools and attempting to get used to life in the states after being gone so long.

Eliza’s ordinary life is suddenly interrupted when she receives a letter from Walter Bowman, a death row inmate.  Walter had spotted Eliza’s picture in a magazine and his letter states “I’d know you anywhere”.  Walter had kidnapped Eliza when she was only 15 years old.  Walter held Eliza hostage for40 days before she was finally released.  This is a part of Eliza’s life that she hasn’t shared with her children.

Eliza’s full name was Elizabeth Hortense Lerner prior to her marriage.  After her abduction, her parents moved and she entered a new school under the name of Eliza.  Only her parents, her sister Vonnie and Eliza’s husband are aware of the past circumstances until a woman who has taken up Walter’s cause finds Eliza and encourages her to talk to Walter.  Eliza finally decides after discussing the matter with her husband that she will speak with Walter. She installs a new telephone line and instructs Walter that the only hours she will be willing to answer the phone is during the time her children are away at school.  Walter wants Eliza to visit him on death row.  Eliza isn’t the only girl he kidnapped but she is the one who lived.  He indicates if she will only visit him, he will reveal information to her about the other that he has previously refused to discuss.

The story of the kidnapping is told in flashbacks.  It seems there were many times Eliza had the opportunity to escape but fear that Walter would carry out his threats to harm Eliza’s family held her back.  Eliza remembers the many days she was held by Walter and her methods of coping with a horrible situation.

This is a book that I very much enjoyed and would highly recommend.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Marcus Sakey
Dutton, June 2011
ISBN 978-0525952114
Hardcover

The story begins with Daniel Hayes washed up on the beach, half dead and thousands of miles away from home.  Daniel is alone except for a car parked on the beach and abandoned.  Of course, Daniel has no idea that he is Daniel Hayes.  He has amnesia and no idea of how he arrived in the water off the coast of Maine.  The car is a BMW.  The registration says Daniel Hayes.  The clothes in the trunk happen to fit.  The gun in the glove compartment is a big surprise.  With no other options, he starts driving the BMW headed across the country. The registration says California so that is his destination.  Is he Daniel Hayes or someone that just washed up on the beach and lucked into a good car with clothes, cash, maps and even a nice Rolex watch.  He wonders how he knew the watch was a Rolex and was surprised he liked the taste of the whiskey left in the car.  With no other options available at the moment, he decides he will be Daniel Hayes – at least until he finds out something different.

As he tries to retrace his life, he finds many surprises.    He has a wife but she is dead.   Or is she dead?  That is just another story he needs to unravel.  As Daniel struggles to make sense of his life, he finds himself right in the middle of a situation that is extremely dangerous but not one that he fully understands.

The struggles Daniel goes through to regain his memory and understand his life that went before he wound up half dead on a beach in Maine is a thriller that keeps the reader on edge up to the very last page.

Marcus Sakey’s previous novels have been very successful and this one is sure to be a winner.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, June 2011.

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

A Bitter Truth
A Bess Crawford Mystery
Charles Todd
William  Morrow and Company, August 2011
ISBN No. 978-0062015709
Hardcover

Bess Crawford is a nurse currently stationed in France.  When she is granted leave to return to England for the Christmas holidays she welcomes the break from the war zone and looks forward to visiting her family.  Bess shares an apartment with some other nurses and it is not uncommon for her to have the place to herself since her roommates all have assignments.  Upon arriving at her apartment building, Bess finds a young woman huddled in the doorway.  The woman is well dressed and appears to be bruised as well as suffering from the cold.    Her clothing is not designed to keep her warm.  Bess convinces the woman to take refuge in her apartment.

The young woman finally confides in Bess that her name is Lydia Ellis and she resides in Sussex.  She had quarreled with her husband, Captain Roger Ellis, and Captain Ellis had struck her.    Eventually after hearing bits and pieces of Lydia’s story Bess convinced her to return to her home in Sussex and attempt to work out her problems.  Lydia’s husband was home on compassionate leave due to the illness of his brother Alan.  Alan had recently passed away.

Lydia begged Bess to return to Sussex with her to Vixen Hill the Ellis family home.  Bess agrees although Simon Brandon was not thrilled with the idea. Simon is a long time family friend who had served with Bess’ father and is very protective of Bess.  On arrival at Vixen Hill, Bess finds that plans are underway for a memorial service for Alan and family members are gathering.  Bess learns of the tragic death of Roger’s young sister years ago, a death from which none of the family seems to have completely recovered.

Soon there is another death to be investigated when a friend of the family who was staying at Vixen Hill is found murdered.  Bess is drawn into the investigation and soon learns more about the family than she ever wanted to know. Lydia has heard rumors that her husband had a child with a woman in France and that the child is the image of his dead sister.  Lydia begs Bess to look for the child when she returns to France.

Bess makes no promises but when she returns to France, she does make inquiries.  Bess confides in a soldier from Australia who takes up the search for the child.  In war torn France there are hundreds of orphans and many of the Sisters carrying for them have to move from place to place due to the war.

The story jumps back and forth between the war front and England and there is no lack of excitement on either front.  This is a good addition to the Bess Crawford mysteries and there is more than one puzzle to solve.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, September 2011.

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

The Boy In the Suitcase
Lene Kaaberbol and Agnette Friis
Soho Crime, November 2011
ISBN 978-1569479810
Hardcover

When Nina Borg, a nurse, agrees to do her friend Karin a favor and pick up a suitcase from a locker in the Copenhagen train station, she thought it would be a simple errand. The errand turned out to be far from simple and extremely dangerous.  When Nina opened the suitcase, she found a small boy, naked and drugged.  Should she call the police and turn the child over to the authorities?  This is the question she kept asking herself but finally determined that the authorities might not do what was in the boy’s best interest.

Meanwhile, the boy’s mother, Sigita was frantic.  Sigita woke up in a hospital with no idea how she got there but is told that she was found in a drunken state after falling down the steps from her apartment.  All Sigita knew was that she did not drink to excess, she has no memory of drinking or falling and her child, Mikas, is gone.  A neighbor tells Sigita that the boy’s father had picked him up but when Sigita is finally able to reach Mikas’ father she finds that he knows nothing about where his son might be.

Nina finally finds out where Karin is and goes to meet her.  When Nina gets to the cabin where Karin is staying, she finds that Karin has been murdered.  There is no clue as to the boy’s identity or why Karin asked Nina to pick up the suitcase.   Nina is quick to realize that agreeing to do a favor for a friend has placed both her and the boy in danger.

The story turns into a race against time with Nina trying to find any clue to help her identify the boy and return him to his family while ignoring her own husband and children who are concerned for Nina’s whereabouts.

Sigita who has reported her child’s loss to the authorities goes about her own investigation into his disappearance and is doing everything she can think of to find her son even though she senses that time is running out.  Sigita was forced to give up her first baby and now to think of losing her son is too horrible to imagine.

The puzzle of why Mikas was abducted and the purpose behind the abduction is one that remains a secret until the surprise ending of this novel.  Finally, it all comes together and makes for a very exciting book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, November 2011.

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

Dark Mind
An Emily Stone Novel
Jennifer Chase
JEC Press, November 2011
ISBN No.978-0982953648
Trade Paperback

This third addition to the Emily Stone series finds Emily and Rick Lopez on the beautiful island of Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands.  Rick has given up his position as a police officer to join Emily in her undercover operation tracking serial killers with the emphasis on child abductors.  Emily was a former police officer.

Rick and Emily are able to rescue a child that was kidnapped by slave brokers.  When the police arrive at the scene, the couple meets Sergeant Lani Candena of the local police department.

The couple feel their trip has been successful and decide to stay on the island and enjoy a little vacation time.  It isn’t long before they hear rumors of a vicious murder.  Rick and Emily go to the scene of the crime and wait for the police to leave. Rick and Emily take a look at the scene.  Once again they run up against Sergeant Lani Candena of the of the local police department.

Lani is an ambitious officer and when there is a second murder, he feels sure that he has a serial killer on his hands.  The killings are staged in a horrible manner and Emily and Rick are convinced the killer must be a local resident.  Lani’s superior officers in the department are more interested in making a profit for themselves in the shady deals they are involved in than finding the killer.

Derek McGraw, an old friend of Rick and Emily, joins the couple on the island.  The three of them work on putting the few clues they have been able to put together in an attempt to locate the killer.  Sgt. Candena is aware that the trio is very interested in the murders.  He eventually convinces the group to work with him in an attempt to hunt down the killer.

The action in Dark Mind is non-stop.   Emily is lucky to survive the hunt.  This novel can be read as a stand-alone but I would also recommend Compulsion and Dead Game, the two previous Emily Stone novels.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, January 2012.

Book Reviews: The Night Season by Chelsea Cain, Shatter the Bones by Stuart MacBride, In Desperation by Rick Mofina, Damage Control by Denise Hamilton, and A Vine in the Blood by Leighton Gage

The Night Season
Chelsea Cain
Minotaur Books, March 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-61976-3
Hardcover

In this, the fourth book in the series featuring police detective Archie Sheridan, Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful but masochistic serial killer who in previous entries shared the stage with Archie, is little more than backdrop, a recurring theme playing almost entirely offstage.  Gretchen has now been in jail for six months [after having been recaptured].  This time reporter Susan Ward plays a larger role, working almost in tandem with Archie, the cop who lived to tell the tale of the Beauty Killer and has still not quite recovered.  [For the uninitiated, Archie headed up the task force searching for the gorgeous psychopath for ten years before she caught him three years earlier.  She had held him captive and tortured him in ways too lurid to be described here.  It nearly cost him his life; it did cost him his marriage.]  After spending two months in a psych ward, he is now, at 41 years of age, eight months clean of painkillers and six months out of inpatient treatment, and allowed to go back to work in the police department.

The killer which is front and center this time around is the swollen Willamette River in Portland.  But it seems that a human killer is at work as well:  Among those swept away by the flood waters are several who were killed before they were left to drown, poisoned by one of the most bizarre methods one is ever likely to find in a novel.  As the cops investigate, one of their own is an early victim.  There are parallels between the current fictional natural disaster and one which actually did completely wipe out another Willamette River city more than 60 years earlier.

Readers can be reassured that this book does not have any of the graphic descriptions of the pleasures in which Gretchen indulged in the earlier books.  For those that miss the gore, the author notes in an acknowledgement that she will make up for it next time.  With or without those elements the book makes for great reading, as did the others.  It is another suspenseful entry in the series and, as those earlier books, is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2011.

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Shatter the Bones
Stuart MacBride
HarperCollins, January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-00-734421-5
Hardcover

[It should be noted that this is the UK edition; the US edition is not yet available]

Alison McGregor and her six-year-old daughter, Jenny, Aberdeen’s huge favorites to win the competition on the hit tv show Britain’s Next Big
Star, have made it to the semi-finals.  Suddenly they are kidnapped, and the ransom note soon received says they will be killed if an indeterminate ransom is not paid within fourteen days.  Contributions are made across the country from their millions of fans.  The police are stymied – there are no witnesses, and no trace of forensic evidence can be found on either the ransom notes or the gruesome videos which the police are examining, and there are absolutely no clues as to who is behind the crime.  Needless to say, the media, and the public, are in an uproar, and the detectives are being hounded by both, as well as by the head of the CID and other investigative agencies.

There is a second story line dealing with a routine drug bust which goes seriously awry, with the drug dealer managing to escape despite handcuffs and the presence of numerous police officers designed to prevent just that from happening.  The ramifications of this are far-reaching and brutal, and very personal for DS Logan McRae.

This latest entry in this wonderful series moves at a slower pace than I remembered the earlier books being, perhaps reflective of the actual way in which serious crime investigations happen in real life.  But trust me, by the time the reader approaches the wrap-up of this well-written tale of celebrity culture run amok, the reader will be turning the pages swiftly to reach the suspense-filled ending as time is running out and the deadline approaches.

Logan McRae, his significant other, Samantha, and the cops on the Grampian Police force who readers have met in the earlier books are wonderfully well drawn.  McRae is a very human and believable protagonist, and I can’t wait for his return in the next series entry. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, June 2011.

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In Desperation
Rick Mofina
MIRA Books, April 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2948-0
Mass Market Paperback

Before the end of the first chapter of In Desperation, Rick Mofina’s newest entry in the Jack Gannon series, Tilly, the eleven-year-old daughter of Cora Martin, has been kidnapped by two gunmen, who tell her that her boss has stolen five million dollars from them, and that he has five days to return it or Tilly will be killed, threatening the same fate if the police are called in.  In her desperation, Cora calls the only family she has, that person being the brother with whom she has had no contact for over twenty years:  Jack Gannon.

Gannon, a 35-year-old loner from blue-collar Buffalo, New York, is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with a national wire service. And the call he receives from Cora is more unsettling to him than anything he can recall.  When she was seventeen and he was twelve, she was his hero, his big sister protector, until she left some twenty years ago and never returned, leaving her family to embark on a futile search for her over the ensuing years.  Her pleas to Jack to help her find the niece he never knew he had take him from Juarez, Mexico, “one of the world’s most violent cities with a homicide rate greater than any other city on earth, where he has been working on a story dealing with the drug cartels that had taken over every aspect life in that country, and go to the suburbs of Phoenix, Arizona where Cora lives. He insists that the police be notified, despite the kidnappers’ threat, which only widens the danger as it appears, as has been widely discussed in the press in the novel as well as the real-life media that surrounds us all, that police agencies in the US have been infiltrated by the cartel members, an acknowledged fact of life in Mexico.

Except for the final few pages, all the ensuing action takes place over a five-day period, hard to believe for all the action that is packed into that time frame.  The reader is teased from the first with references to a secret that Cora will not reveal, something from her past that she convinces herself cannot possibly have any connection with her present crisis.  Cora’s boss, the one who is supposed to have pulled off this rip-off of some very dangerous men, seems to have disappeared, and all attempts to locate him end in failure.

Always engrossing, the book has the high level of suspense typical of Mr. Mofina’s writing.  One quibble this reader had was that I found it less than credible that Gannon, already suspecting that the investigation may have been compromised, approaches a lead, a man with a very unsavory background, giving him full details of the investigation to that point in order to elicit information from him that will give him further avenues to pursue.  But hey, desperate times call for desperate measures.  Jack’s journalistic instincts push him to proceed, and put him in a difficult position – he has a job to do, and a story to write, even as he fights to distance himself from the fact that he is writing about his own family.  Bodies start showing up, killed in gruesome ways, and they must find Tilly before she becomes just one more.  They discover that an assassin, or sicario, has been dispatched to find those missing millions, and to eliminate any loose ends, or witnesses.

Sure to hold the reader’s attention to the very end, the book leads the reader to think he or she knows where they are being taken – but don’t be too sure.  The author has a very sure hand, and surprises are in store.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, August 2011.

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Damage Control
Denise Hamilton
Scribner, September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-7432-9674-9
Hardcover

On the very first page of the prologue to Damage Control, the terrific new book by Denise Hamilton, the reader meets high school student Maggie Weinstock.  Fast forward sixteen years:  Maggie is now Maggie Silver, divorced, and 33 years old.  The crux of the plot stems from that earlier time frame, when Maggie, in her first two years of high school, met the Paxtons, who became the “golden ones” in her young life.  Before “BFF” became part of the vernacular, their daughter, Anabelle, was that and more – she was everything Maggie admired and, to some extent, envied. And her good-looking brother, Luke, was a Surf God.

Maggie now works for the top crisis management firm in L.A., doing corporate PR.  The newest client to whose case she is assigned is a U.S. Senator with a wife and grown children, a probable candidate for vice president in the next election, whose 23-year-old female aide has been found murdered, in a scenario reminiscent of the one involving Gary Conduit and Chandra Levy a decade ago.  The senator is none other than Henry Paxton, Anabelle’s father, who had been a father figure and a role model to Maggie all those years ago.  Welcome to the wonderful world of “damage control,” or spin.

This novel provides a fascinating glimpse, in a schadenfreude way, into a world about which most readers know little.  Maggie suspects that her past involvement with the Paxton family is what brought the assignment to her desk.  She believes, and tells her colleagues, that no member of that family is capable of murder.  The response is that “everyone’s capable of murder if you give them the right reason.”  But she is determined to prove that no member of the family is guilty. The backstory of Maggie’s friendship with Anabelle, and how it ended, is the lens through which Maggie views the Paxtons.  In the end, it’s all about the secrets we keep from one another.  As with the earlier books by Ms. Hamilton, comprised of the five books in the Eve Diamond series as well as The Last Embrace, a standalone, Damage Control is thoroughly entertaining, and is recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, October 2011.

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A Vine in the Blood
Leighton Gage
Soho Crime, December 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61695-004-0
Hardcover

This is the fifth novel in the series, referred to as the Inspector Mario Silva Investigations, and it is every bit as delightful as the others.  “Delightful” might be a strange adjective for a book concerning kidnapping and murder, but it is entirely fitting.

Football [or, as the Americans call it, ‘soccer’] is the most popular sport in Brazil, and the FIFA World Cup the premier event in that sport, and Tico Santos, known as The Artist, is considered the greatest player in the history of the sport.  As the book opens, three weeks before the first game is to take place in Brazil [the only country to have won the Cup five times and hosting the series for the first time in more than sixty years], Juraci Santos, his mother, is kidnapped.  Other victims are Juraci’s servants, two young women brutally murdered.

The effect in the country is devastating – does Brazil have a chance of beating Argentina without their star player?  The headlines speak of nothing else, and the pressure on the police, and on Director Mario Silva, is enormous.  The possibilities are endless: the Argentineans themselves; The Artist’s gold-digging girlfriend; his principal rival, who wants to play in Tico’s place; and a man whose career was destroyed when Tico broke his leg in a match.  Or is it just about the $5,000,000 ransom demand?

The usual complement of background factors of this series is present:  The corruption inherent throughout the justice system and the police [to which Silva, called the “sharpest criminal investigator in this country,” is known as an incorruptible exception], and Silva’s colleagues, including charming Haraldo “Babyface” Goncalves [so called because although he is 34 he looks 22].  There is also Fiorello Rosa, PhD and master kidnapper currently serving a 14-year prison sentence, an unlikely expert consulted by Silva to assist in the investigation, with everyone mindful of the fact that the kidnapped woman is likely to be killed before her abductors can be found.  The terrific writing makes this a fast read, and one that is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, December 2011.

Book Review: In Desperation by Rick Mofina

In Desperation
Rick Mofina
Mira, 2011
ISBN No. 978-0778329480
Mass Market Paperback

Jack Gannon is working on a story in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.  Jack is a journalist employed by Word Press Alliance.    Jack and Isabel Luna, a crime reporter for El Heralda, a family owned newspaper in Juarez, have just discovered a mother cradling her dead son in her arms.  The boy was only 16 and the third child that Paula Chavez had lost to the drug wars raging in Mexico.

Jack has also lost his family.   His sister, Cora, left home when she was just a teen-ager.  Jack’s parents are deceased.  Prior to their death, they had done everything possible to locate Cora but they were not successful in their search.    Members of a drug cartel had murdered Isabel’s father.  Isabel confided in Jack that she had actually witnessed her father’s death and had seen his murderer.

Meanwhile in Phoenix, Arizona a mother named Cora Martin is terrified.  Her eleven year-old daughter, Tilly, has been kidnapped.  The men who took Cora said that her boss, who was also her boyfriend, Lyle Galviera had stolen money from them.  Lyle owns Quick Draw Courier and had been using his company to launder money for the drug cartel.  The kidnappers’ state that Tilly will not be returned until the money is recovered.  Cora is told if she wants to see her daughter, she must find Lyle and make sure he returns their money.

The kidnappers have left Cora tied up but she was finally able to free herself.  She knows Lyle is out of town on business but when she tries to make contact, she cannot reach him.

Back in Juarez, Jack has just heard from Isabel that a power struggle is about to explode within one of the major cartels and assassins might be used.  Jack assures Isabel that he will be there. However, that promise to Isabel is one that Jack was unable to keep.

When Jack opens his email, he eyes are drawn to a subject line that says “Your sister Cora Needs Your Help Now”.  Jack has not heard from Cora for twenty years but he still cannot turn his back on her.  His next step is to fly to Phoenix to help Cora deal with the kidnappers and attempt to get Tilly back alive.

Jack’s emotions are playing leapfrog as he tries to help Cora.  At times, she is the sister that he had known so many years ago.  Other times he feels that she is a stranger who is holding back details of her life that might have a bearing on the current situation.  The World Press Alliance wants the scoop on the story but Jack is not able to feed them any inside information.  Even the authorities are not open with Jack because of his work as a journalist.

Rick Mofina has written another exciting story that will keep readers holding their breath.  This is the third in the Jack Gannon series.  It is not necessary to read the first two in the series to enjoy this book.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, February 2011.