Book Review: The Last Exit by Michael Kaufman—and a Giveaway! @KaufmanWrites @crookedlanebks

The Last Exit
A Jen Lu Mystery #1
Michael Kaufman
Crooked Lane Books, January 2021
ISBN 978-1-64385-567-7
Hardcover

Set in the future, Jen Lu is a Washington D.C. detective with a synth implant named Chandler residing in her neocortex. She is able to turn Chandler off at will, but is not supposed to when on duty. With a population grown out of control and limited resources and space for everyone, people over sixty-five are required to exit (die) so their children may live—as long as they can pay for an expensive longevity treatment.

One evening, Jen and Chandler are called to a stand-off between parents and child because the parents refuse to “exit” at their son’s demand.  A shoot-out occurs, with the mother’s last words something about going to Eden.

Jen’s investigation turns up a cheaper source for the treatment and the term “Eden” is mentioned, but reports are coming in of many people dying. When her supervisor calls her off the case, suspicions grow of something hinky going on, which involves people in government, law enforcement, and of course, highest society.

Determined to get to the bottom of it, especially after Chandler is turned off and Jen fired, Jen’s own life and hope for longevity is put in jeopardy as she follows a money trail. Only the presence of her former cop partner, her boyfriend, and Chandler’s power, can help put things right.

Excellent world-building, entirely plausible—and more than a bit scary. Fine writing and interesting characters make Mr. Kaufman most definitely a writer to watch.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2021.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Six Dancing Damsels: A China Bohannon Mystery

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

Giveaway

To enter the drawing for a print copy of
The Last Exit, leave a comment
below. The winning name will be drawn
on the evening of Sunday, August 22nd.
US and Canada entrants only.

Book Review: Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman @katharinewrites @crookedlanebks @partnersincr1me

Silence in the Library

by Katharine Schellman

July 12 – August 6, 2021 Tour

************

Silence in the Library
A Lily Adler Mystery #2
Katharine Schellman
Crooked Lane Books, July 2021
ISBN 978-1-64385-704-6
Hardcover


From the publisher—

Regency widow Lily Adler didn’t expect to find a corpse when visiting a family friend. Now it’s up to her to discover the killer in the charming second installment in the Lily Adler mysteries.

Regency widow Lily Adler has finally settled into her new London life when her semi-estranged father arrives unexpectedly, intending to stay with her while he recovers from an illness. Hounded by his disapproval, Lily is drawn into spending time with Lady Wyatt, the new wife of an old family friend. Lily barely knows Lady Wyatt. But she and her husband, Sir Charles, seem as happy as any newly married couple until the morning Lily arrives to find the house in an uproar and Sir Charles dead.

All signs indicate that he tripped and struck his head late at night. But when Bow Street constable Simon Page is called to the scene, he suspects foul play. And it isn’t long before Lily stumbles on evidence that Sir Charles was, indeed, murdered.

Mr. Page was there when Lily caught her first murderer, and he trusts her insight into the world of London’s upper class. With the help of Captain Jack Hartley, they piece together the reasons that Sir Charles’s family might have wanted him dead. But anyone who might have profited from the old man’s death seems to have an alibi… until Lily receives a mysterious summons to speak with one of the Wyatts’ maids, only to find the young woman dead when she arrives.

Mr. Page believes the surviving family members are hiding the key to the death of both Sir Charles and the maid. To uncover the truth, Lily must convince the father who doesn’t trust or respect her to help catch his friend’s killer before anyone else in the Wyatt household dies.

Regency England has long been a favorite setting for many readers, myself included, of historical fiction, mystery, romance, even the occasional fantasy or science fiction. Why the period is so appealing I’m not sure unless, for some peculiar reason, it’s because it evokes a lofty ideal of gentility but that doesn’t really work because we also see the darker side of the times, the poverty, the class oppression. Whatever the attraction, I just know that I truly enjoy it and I was very happy to be introduced to this series.

The widowed Lily Adler is a young woman of substantial means which is the only reason she can maintain her single female lifestyle in a society that allows very few freedoms for women. Along with her wealth, she also happens to be intelligent and observant, qualities that are appreciated by some of the men in her life such as Captain Jack Hartley, friend of her deceased husband, and Bow Street Runner Simon Page. The same cannot be said of her unpleasant, dismissive father who has, without invitation, installed himself in her home. He insists Lily call upon his old friend, Sir Charles Wyatt, who is later found murdered and the search begins to determine who killed him. Lily assisted Simon on a previous case and he welcomes the help from her and Captain Jack but, alas, their collaborative investigation is still under way when another death occurs.

Appealing and vividly drawn characters (even Lily’s obnoxious father) and a decent plot create just the right circumstances for an engaging mystery. I recommend it to all lovers of historical mysteries.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2021.

************

Praise for Silence in the Library:

“Schellman’s gracefully written whodunit is equally a tale of this is an immersion in a bygone era.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The fast-paced, engrossing story has a climactic confrontation worthy of Rex Stout or Agatha Christie.” —Library Journal, starred review

Purchase Links:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop

************

An Excerpt from Silence in the Library

Given the way she hadn’t hesitated to interfere in the Wyatt family’s affairs, Lily expected Lady Wyatt to politely rescind her invitation to ride the next morning. But she had insisted, saying her arm was sure to be better by morning. So after breakfast, Lily instructed Anna to lay out her riding habit. Though she had forgone her usual routine of breakfasting in her own room and instructed Mrs. Carstairs to lay breakfast in the parlor, Lily hadn’t seen any sign of her father. She didn’t mind. If she couldn’t be cozy while she dined, she was at least happy to be alone. And it gave her the opportunity to go over the week’s menus with her housekeeper and offer several suggestions for managing her father’s requests while he was with them. “And do you know how long might that be, Mrs. Adler?” Mrs. Carstairs asked carefully. “Mr. Branson was unable to say when I spoke to him last night.” Lily pursed her lips. “For as long as he needs, Mrs. Carstairs. Or as long as I can bear his company. My record on that score is fifteen years, however, so let us hope it will not come to that.” The housekeeper wisely didn’t say anything else. Lily’s pleasant solitude lasted until she was making her way back upstairs to change, when she found her path blocked by her father’s belligerent frame. Unwell he might be, but George Pierce was still a solid, imposing man, and Lily had to remind herself to square her shoulders and meet his scowl with a smile as he did his best to tower over her from the step above. “Good morning, Father.” He didn’t return the greeting. “I am going to breakfast,” he announced, eyebrows raised. Lily waited for a moment and then, when no more information was forthcoming, nodded. “I hope you enjoy it. Mrs. Carstairs is an excellent cook.” He sniffed. “And I assume your excessively early rising is an attempt to avoid my company?” “It is past nine o’clock, father,” Lily said. “Hardly excessive. And I have an appointment this morning, so if you will excuse me—” “What is your appointment?” He couldn’t curtail or dictate what she did with her time, Lily reminded herself. Even if having him in her home left her feeling as if her independence were being slowly stripped away once more, in practical terms he had no say in her life anymore. Answering his question was only polite. “An engagement with a friend—” “That sailor again, I assume?” Lily took a deep breath. “Captain Hartley was also invited, but no, the engagement is to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Which I assume you would approve of?” Seeing that she had momentarily surprised him into silence, she took the opportunity to push past her father. “You would like her, I think. She is charming and elegant.” “And her husband’s a fool for marrying again,” Mr. Pierce grumbled, but Lily was already heading down the hall and didn’t answer. Jack was coming just before ten to escort her to the Wyatts’ house, and Lily was in a hurry to dress and escape her father once again. Her room was empty when she walked in, but Anna had laid out her riding habit on the bed, pressed and ready, its military-style buttons glinting in the morning light amid folds of emerald-green fabric. Lily stared at it without moving. She had forgotten that her habit wasn’t suitable to wear when she was in mourning. She was still staring when Anna returned, the freshly brushed riding hat in her hands. When she saw Lily’s posture, Anna paused. “You don’t have another, I’m afraid,” she said gently. Lily nodded, unable to speak. One hand reached out to brush the heavy fabric of the habit; the other clenched a fold of the gray dress she wore. She had stopped wearing colors even before Freddy died—in those last months of his illness, she had traded all her pretty dresses for drab gowns more suited to nursing an invalid who would never recover. And even after full mourning was complete, she had lingered in the muted shades of half mourning long past when anyone would have required it of her, even Freddy’s own family. Laying aside the visual reminders of her grief felt too much like leaving behind her marriage. But that had meant more than two years of sorrow. And in the last few months, since she had come to London and taken control of her life once more, something had shifted inside her. “Yes, thank you, Anna,” Lily said quietly, her voice catching a little. She cleared her throat and said, more firmly, “I will wear this one.” *** She managed to leave the house without encountering her father again. When her butler, Carstairs, sent word that Captain Hartley was waiting in the front hall, Lily felt a pang of anxiety. Jack had loved Freddy like a brother. And he had never given any indication that he thought her mourning had gone on long enough. Jack was in the middle of removing his hat, and his hand stilled at the brim as he caught sight of her. Even Carstairs fell still as they watched her come down the stairs, the heavy folds of her green skirts buttoned up on one side to allow her to walk freely and a single dyed- green feather curling over the brim of her hat and flirting with her brown curls. Lily felt exposed as she descended the final few steps, though she was bolstered by the approval that softened Carstairs’s smile. She had never considered herself a shy person, but she could barely meet Jack’s eyes as she crossed the hall to give him her hand. For a moment neither of them spoke, and when she raised her gaze at last, Lily thought she saw the captain blinking something from the corner of his eye. “That was Freddy’s favorite color,” he said at last, his voice catching. Lily nodded. “I know.” Jack’s jaw tightened for a moment as he swallowed. But he smiled. “Well done, Lily,” he said quietly. “Good for you.” *** There was a lightness between them as they made the quick journey to Wimpole Street. As Jack waved down a hack carriage and handed her in, Lily found herself laughing at all of his quips or droll pieces of gossip, even the ones she normally would have chastised him for repeating. And Jack kept glancing at her out of the corner of his eye. “Do I look that dreadful?” Lily asked at last as he handed her down from the carriage in front of the Wyatts’ home. “Quite the opposite,” he said, rubbing the back of his neck as he released her hand. “Did you know, you are actually quite pretty?” “You mean you did not find me pretty before?” “I think I had forgotten to consider it one way or another,” Jack admitted, grinning. “What a shame everyone has left London already; you would cause quite a sensation.” Lily shook her head. “I know full well I am not handsome enough for that.” “Surprise can cause as much of a sensation as admiration,” Jack pointed out. “Captain!” Lily exclaimed in mock indignation. “You were supposed to argue with me!” They continued bantering as they mounted the steps to Sir Charles’s townhouse, only to fall silent and exchange a puzzled glance as they realized that the door was half-open, the sounds of raised voices echoing from within. Lily glanced at Jack, an uneasy sensation beginning to curl in the pit of her stomach. “Should we knock?” He shrugged and did so, rapping firmly on the wood of the door. There was no response, but it swung open a little more. After hesitating a moment, Lily bit her lip and said, “Well, we ought to at least make sure Lady Wyatt knows we’ve come. If it is no longer convenient to ride, she can certainly tell us to leave.” “And you were already happy to interfere yesterday,” Jack pointed out, though she could hear the unease lurking beneath his playful tone. “We might as well do it again.” “Very true.” Lily pushed the door the rest of the way open and strode in, Jack following close behind. The front hall was empty, but they could still hear voices not far away, now low and urgent, and the sound of quiet crying from somewhere just out of sight. The uneasy feeling began to spread through Lily’s chest and arms, and she reached out her hand in blind anxiety. She was relieved to feel Jack take it and press it reassuringly into the crook of his arm. She had just decided that they should leave after all when quick steps echoed down the stairs. A moment later Frank Wyatt came rushing down, checking himself at the bottom as he stared at them in surprise. His face was pale and his eyes red as he gaped at them, his easy manner vanished. “Lily? And Captain . . . I’ve quite forgot your name. You must excuse . . . what are you doing here?” “The door was open, and no one answered our knock,” Lily said, feeling a little ashamed of their hastiness in entering. “I apologize, Frank; we did not mean to intrude, but we had an appointment to ride with Lady Wyatt this morning. Is everyone well?” “Is everyone . . . No. No.” Frank gripped the banister with one hand, his knuckles white. “I am afraid that Lady Wyatt will not be able to ride today. My father . . .” He swallowed. “My father has died.” Lily stared at him, unable to make sense of his words. They had seen Sir Charles just the day before. If he had seemed a little older and weaker than she remembered, he had still been utterly vital and alive. “Died? But . . . how?” “In point of fact,” a new voice said quietly from behind them. “It seems Sir Charles Wyatt has been killed.” *** Excerpt from Silence in the Library by Katharine Schellman. Copyright 2021 by Katharine Schellman. Reproduced with permission from Katharine Schellman. All rights reserved.

************

About the Author

 

Katharine Schellman is a former actor, one-time political consultant, and currently the author of the Lily Adler Mysteries. A graduate of the College of William & Mary, Katharine currently lives and writes in the mountains of Virginia in the company of her family and the many houseplants she keeps accidentally murdering.

Find her online:

katharineschellman.com

Goodreads

BookBub – @KatharineSchellman

Instagram – @katharinewrites

Twitter – @katharinewrites

Facebook – @katharineschellman

************

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=302270

************

Don’t Miss Your Chance to Enter the Giveaway!!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Heather Redmond. There will be 1 winner of one (1) BookShop.org Gift Card (U.S. ONLY). The giveaway runs July 12 through August 8, 2021. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

************

Get More Great Reads at
Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

 

Book Review: Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima @margmizu @crookedlanebks

Hanging Falls
A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #6
Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books, September 2020
ISBN 978-1-64385-445-8
Hardcover

While hiking in the mountains, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo discover a man’s body floating in a lake. They soon find the body, once buried, has washed downhill due to the heavy rains plaguing the Colorado high country. While searching for clues to the man’s identity, they spot someone watching them and take him in as a suspect. Forced to let him go, as there doesn’t seem to be a connection between him and the dead man, in a matter of hours the suspect also ends up dead, hanging from a tall woodland tree. Investigation leads Mattie, Robo, and the police department to a group of religious adherents of what appears to be plural marriage.

This is the first of Mizushima’s Timber Creek mysteries that I’ve read, and it’s certainly not the last. This is the sixth book in the series, and I intend to go back for the earlier stories and catch up with Mattie’s previous adventures. Besides, I want to learn how she and Robo became partners. Then there’s her love life with veterinarian Cole Walker, and her interaction with the other LEO’s at their station. All are interesting and play important parts in the story arc.

As a plus, a great deal of the action happens in the mountains of Colorado, and we interact with wildlife, and the great outdoors.

Plus, Mattie was kidnapped, then abandoned by her mother when she was only two years old. She’s recently had a DNA test done and found some possible close relatives. What’s going to happen with that? It all adds to a well-rounded story with a good mystery, one sure to stir your blood. Besides, I’m a sucker for stories where dogs play a part. Definitely recommended reading.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, December 2020.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Six Dancing Damsels: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: Booked for Death by Victoria Gilbert @VGilbertauthor @crookedlanebks

Booked for Death
A Booklover’s B&B Mystery #1
Victoria Gilbert
Crooked Lane Books, August 2020
ISBN 978-1-64385-307-9
Hardcover

First in a new series by the author of the popular Blue Ridge Library mysteries, this new series is “A Booklover’s B&B Mystery.”  Set in Beaufort, North Carolina, we meet Charlotte Reed, proprietor of the Chapters Bed and Breakfast which she inherited from her great-aunt, Isabella.  Having spent the year since her inheritance learning how to run the B&B and host literary events, Charlotte thinks she is prepared for pretty much anything.  But, having planned a literary retreat based on the life and books of the famed Josephine Tey, Charlotte did not expect a murder.  So, when a dealer in rare books turns up dead during the event, Charlotte suddenly finds herself in the position of trying to find out who had it in for the man.

At first the victim’s wife and daughter suspect Charlotte because the book dealer threatened to make public information about great-aunt Isabella that, according to him, would show that Isabella bought the inn with money she received from selling stolen items.  Determined to clear both her own name and Isabella’s, Charlotte sets out to find out who killed the dealer.  Unfortunately, there is no shortage of suspects but fortunately she has some help from a neighbor and some of her book club guests.  But then someone comes after Charlotte.  Can she unmask the killer before the killer gets her?

Booked for Death is a cozy fast read with engaging characters – perfect for the beach (can we even go to a beach these days?).  Or, if not a beach, somewhere outside or on a nice breezy porch.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, June 2020.

Book Review: Bound for Murder by Victoria Gilbert @VGilbertauthor @crookedlanebks

Bound for Murder
A Blue Ridge Library Mystery #4
Victoria Gilbert
Crooked Lane Books, January 2020
ISBN 978-1-64385-243-0
Hardcover

Subtitled “A Blue Ridge Library Mystery,” Bound for Murder is the fourth in this series.  The amateur sleuth, Amy, is a librarian, and the director of the Taylorsford Public Library.  Her best friend and employee, Sunny, is running for mayor of their town.  When a skeleton is found on property owned by Sunny’s grandparents, Carol and P.J., it becomes the talk of the small town.  Bolstered by the fact that Carol and P.J. used their land for a hippie commune back in the 1960s, and a couple of hippies left the commune and were not seen again, the incumbent mayor insinuates that Sunny’s family had something to do with the death which, as it turns out, was a murder.  And, when the skeleton is identified as someone who lived in the commune, suspicion of Carol and P.J. intensifies.

Amy, who does not believe that Carol and P.J. could have been involved in a murder, becomes determined to investigate, despite her fiancé’s concern for her safety.  In this she has the backing of the local Chief Deputy – at least partially – who asked her to do some research into the commune and its time.  However, he did not ask her to do any live investigating!  But, when Carol and P.J. ask Amy to deliver a message to former members of the commune, it seems like a perfect opportunity to ask questions without further raising suspicions.  Would that it was so!  Shortly after completing her round of questioning, Amy starts getting threats and the message that she should back off.  Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t do so.

Bound for Murder is an engaging cozy mystery, perfect for a weekend read and, as such, I recommend it.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, February 2020.

Book Review: Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima @margmizu @crookedlanebks

Tracking Game
A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #5
Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books, November 2019
ISBN 978-1-64385-135-8
Hardcover

Deputy Mattie Cobb is at a local gathering enjoying an evening with Cole Walker the local vet, when there is an explosion nearby.  As they rush to the site they find a van on fire and a dead body, a body with two bullet holes.  The body is that of Nate Fletcher married to the daughter of Doyle Redman from a nearby ranch.

Who would want to kill Nate Fletcher? As the investigation quickly gets underway Mattie and her K-9 partner Robo make a few important discoveries including finding the gun used to kill Nate.

As the local police, along with Mattie and Robo focus on unravelling the mystery, another body turns up. The case grows ever more complicated as questions regarding possible drug running and other dangerous activities slowly surface.

This one started with a Bang, literally. The pace slowed somewhat during the investigation.  Mattie is dealing with some personal issues regarding her relationship with Cole, but she determinedly sets those aside to focus on finding the perpetrator or perpetrators.  There are a number of viable suspects and the mystery takes an unusual turn that sends Mattie, Robo and Cole on a tracking mission up into the mountains.

This is the fifth book but my first introduction to the Timber Creek Series, and even though there is back story regarding Mattie’s past referred to in the book, I didn’t feel I was missing too much and enjoyed meeting Mattie and her very smart K-9, Robo.

I was drawn in reading how Mattie and her K-9 worked together.  The author also vividly captured the beauty as well as the danger of the Timber Creek landscape.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2020.

Book Review: Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima

Burning Ridge
A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #4
Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books, September 2018
ISBN 978-1-68331-778-4
Hardcover

Mattie Cobb is a Deputy Sheriff in Timber Creek, Colorado, with a special talent. She’s a highly accomplished K9 officer. With her faithful Shepherd, Robo, she’s trained and refined both her own and the dog’s capabilities to a very high level. The pair provides a rich vein of activity, characterization and plot movement. She’s of mixed ethnic heritage and though she spent early years in a troubled household, her grasp of right and wrong are strong. Timber Creek lies in the Redstone Ridge area, an immensely beautiful vista of rugged mountain, plains and streams, much of it covered with dense forest.

When she and a close friend find a partially burned body with signs of restraint and possible torture, Mattie begins a search that develops into a strange journey for her involving family, her law enforcement community and her future emotional life. The plot is intricate, the setting excellent and the tension rises on a continuum that almost compels readers to continue turning pages, exactly what every thriller author strives to accomplish.

As the story progresses, more and more intriguing, carefully delineated, characters are introduced. And, as Mattie and Robo draw ever closer to the answers she finds her family somehow entangled, as well. There are several violent scenes and a forest fire, all of which serves the story well. If there is any flaw here it is in the unwinding of some of the puzzling aspects of the plot. That takes somewhat more time than one would like but it is a small price to pay for an enthralling thriller of a crime novel peopled with varied and interesting characters.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2018.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.