Book Review: Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark

Fiction Can Be Murder
A Mystery Writer’s Mystery #1
Becky Clark
Midnight Ink, April 2018
ISBN 978-0-7387-5332-4
Trade Paperback

Mystery writer Charlemagne Russo is an up and coming, best selling author, who is having a bit of trouble with her agent, Melinda Walter. According to the agent, Charlee’s royalties are falling off, and no one seems to know why. Angry words pass between them. Then Melinda is murdered and the method used is the exact way Charlee’s latest fictional victim dies. Who is the easiest potential murder suspect for the police to glom onto? Why, Charlee, of course.

Afraid she’s going to be hauled in on a murder charge at any moment, Charlee frantically begins investigating on her own. Her interests center on her critique group, all of whom have read the manuscript and may have a reason to dislike Melinda, who is well known for her harsh rejections.

Now, in order to avoid any spoilers, I’m going to say Charlee is one of those TSTL heroines. The surprise at the end when the guilty person is unveiled is a good one, even if getting there was sometimes a bit torturous. And I’m afraid Charlee’s love interest just didn’t turn me on. Awkward!

That said, the writing is good, and the story is paced well, although Charlee’s investigative questions and the answers received became a bit repetitious. And since the story takes place in a Denver winter, I think Fiction Can Be Murder would make a good book for a hot weather beach read.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.

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A Passel of Teeny Reviews, Part 5

Once again, big surprise, I find myself with
an overload of books read but not yet reviewed
so I think it’s time for a roundup or two…

Peachy Flippin’ Keen
Southern Eclectic #3
Molly Harper
Pocket Star, April 2018
ISBN 978-1-5011-7894-8
Ebook

Molly Harper has a ton of books but I had never “met” her until I came across the first book in this 4-book series and fell deeply, madly in love with Lake Sackett, Georgia, and the McCready clan, not to mention the folks in their town. These books are Southern fiction at it’s best and this novella is no exception. Nothing earthshattering happens here as it’s pretty much a set-up for the book coming out in June, Ain’t She a Peach (and I can hardly wait to start that one).

Frankie McCready has to be the cutest, most unusual county coroner and embalmer you ever did see but she fits right in with the family and the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop which is exactly what the name says. One day, there’s a new lawman in town, Sheriff Eric Linden, fresh from Atlanta, and he apparently never read the Southern charm book. Pranks are being perpetrated on the McCready premises but it’s questionable whether the sheriff will help solve the case or drive Frankie to murder (of him) first. Then again, they did have a previous encounter so keeping that secret is one thing they have in common, probably the only thing. Can you guess where this is headed?

These books can be read out of order because each one focuses on different members of the family but, for a real treat, read these in order.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2018.

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Death Promise
Jacqueline Seewald
Encircle Publications, May 2018
ISBN 978-1-893035-94-2
Trade Paperback

On the surface, this sequel is a thriller involving human trafficking and organized crime as well as maybe Russians and international intrigue but, for me, the core story is that of Daniel Reiner and the family dysfunction that suddenly mushrooms when he learns he has a much younger teenaged sister, daughter of the father who abandoned him as a child. Who is Beth and is she truly his half-sister? International consultant Michelle Hallam agrees to help Daniel look into the situation but what they learn in Las Vegas sends them into a tornado of more and more questions with frightening answers. This is a nice blend of suspense and romance with lots of action to keep the pages turning.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2018.

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The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place
A Flavia de Luce Novel #9
Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press, January 2018
ISBN 978-0-345539991
Hardcover
Random House Audio
Narrated by Jayne Entwistle
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

Great sadness and a near-cliffhanger enveloped our cheeky pre-teen detective at the end of the previous book and fans had to wait, with huge anticipation, for this newest book to find out what would become of the de Luce family and its faithful servants, Dogger and Mrs. Mullet. When Aunt Felicity becomes overbearing and a bit of a bully, Flavia decides to do away with herself but Fate intervenes when Dogger suggests an outing, a boat trip on a nearby river. Is anyone surprised when Flavia quite literally catches a corpse, setting her off on another investigation?

Rumor has it the next book, The Golden Tresses of the Dead (January 2019), will be the last we see of Flavia but, oh my goodness, I hope not and the surprise at the end of The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place gives me a little bit of hope for her future. Who knew, back in 2009 when the series began, that so many mystery readers would fall in love with this kid?

As always, narrator Jayne Entwistle kept me entranced and, at times, sitting in the car in my driveway or a parking lot so I could continue to listen. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: Jayne Entwistle brings Flavia to life and I highly, highly recommend the audiobooks and/or the print books (I do both so I won’t miss anything) but reading in order is a must.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2018.

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The Library Ghost of Tanglewood Inn
A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Short Story
Gigi Pandian
Henery Press, November 2017
ISBN 978-1-63511-314-3
Ebook

“Jaya, for the love of all that’s good and holy, please remember that not everything is a murderous plot.”

With that, Jaya and Tamarind (the latter wearing stylish purple combat boots) are rescued from the Denver airport in a snowstorm by a pair of friendly guys and are soon ensconced at a Victorian hotel, the Tanglewood Inn. Did Jaya really see someone at the window of the turret room she’s been assigned? Kenny thinks the hotel is perfect but it puts Jaya more in mind of a spooky haunted house. Sure enough, the owner, Rosalyn, shares the tale of her hotel library’s “avenging ghost”.  A former guest, a Mr. Underhill, died there in the 1930’s and an Agatha Christie book had something to do with it in a classic locked room mystery.

And then they hear a scream in the night…

I’m already a devotee of Jaya’s historic treasure hunting adventures and this little story is a perfect interlude before the next novel. Besides, who could ask for more than a locked room mystery?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2018.

Book Reviews: The Accident by Linwood Barclay and The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

The Accident
Linwood Barclay
Bantam Books, August 2011
ISBN No. 978-0553807189
Hardcover

Glen and Sheila Garber have been facing what so many other couples across the country are facing.  The economy isn’t any better in Connecticut where they have their home than any other location in the United States.  Glen is a contractor and owns his own business.  His business has been shaken by the housing crisis.  One of the houses he was working on burned and he is not sure that the insurance is going to cover the loss. Sheila is attending night classes in the hope of landing a better job.  Sheila also feels that she will be a big help in Glen’s business when she finishes her night course.  Sheila assured Glen that the future was looking brighter for the couple and their eight year-old daughter.

There would be no future for the couple. Sheila left for class one night and didn’t return.  She was killed in an automobile accident and she wasn’t the only victim.  Sheila is blamed for the accident although Glen just can’t believe it.  The police say Sheila was drunk and passed out with her car blocking the road.  Glen has never known Sheila to drink to excess nor has she ever driven while intoxicated.

Glen sets out to seek answers to what really happened the night that Sheila died.  He finds that other couples in his community have decided to take dangerous steps to increase their income and fight the current economy.  Good friends have become involved in illegal activities that include pushing knock off purses, selling prescription meds that aren’t of the quality they should be and it even extends to faulty wiring and building materials.  The more Glen finds out the more he fears for the safety of his daughter as well as his own safety.  He questions how deeply involved Sheila had become in these activities and if this involvement brought about her death.

This is a gripping story that keeps the reader on edge.  Before the entire story is revealed, several lives and families are destroyed.  I hope that this story is all centered in the author’s imagination.   It would be tragic to think that families have taken up criminal activities in order to retain a life style that they have become accustomed to in better times.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, October 2011.

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The Bride Collector
Ted Dekker
Center Street, 2010
ISBN No. 1599951966
Hardcover

Women of the Denver area are being targeted by a killer the FBI are calling The Bride Collector.  The killer leaves his victims naked except for panties and a veil.  The body is glued to the wall and the blood is drained from the victims.

FBI Special Agent Brad Raines is at a dead-end in his investigation.  Nikki Holden, a forensic psychologist working with Brad, is of the opinion that the killer thinks of himself as the groom and that his preparations of the body are done out of love.  When the killer leaves a note in the heel of his victim Brad and Nikki are at a loss to figure out the message that the killer is trying to convey.

Determining that the killer is both mentally ill and a genius the FBI turns to the Center for Wellness and Intelligence.   The center is a private home for gifted, mentally ill residents.  When Brad and Nikki visit the center, they meet residents Roudy, Andrea, Enrique and Paradise.  People have their own set of personal problems but each is highly intelligent.  Although the mannerisms of the group could be considered at times comical their mental problems are very real.  The group works hard to decipher the meaning behind the message left by The Bride Collector and manage to reach a solution that is a big help to the FBI.

Brad suffers from a mental problem of his own in that he cannot forget his first love who killed herself because she didn’t think she was beautiful enough.  The killer leaves a note that indicates he has taken a personal interest in Brad that makes Brad fear for anyone close to him.

Paradise seems to have the ability to see the final moments before a person’s death by touching the body.  Brad works to gain Paradise’s trust and soon he is fascinated by Paradise who refers to herself as a skank because she feels she is ugly.

This is a fast-paced book and not your usual serial killer story.  The Bride Collector ended too soon for me.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, February 2011.