Book Review: Just Get Home by Bridget Foley @HarlequinBooks

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Title: Just Get Home
Author: Bridget Foley
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: April 13, 2021
Genre: Thriller, Post-Disaster Fiction

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Just Get Home
Bridget Foley
MIRA, April 2021
ISBN 978-0-7783-3159-9
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

When the Big One earthquake hits LA, a single mother and a teen in the foster system are brought together by their circumstances and an act of violence in order to survive the wrecked streets of the city, working together to just get home.

Dessa, a single mom, is enjoying a rare night out when a devastating earthquake strikes. Roads and overpasses crumble, cell towers are out everywhere, and now she must cross the ruined city to get back to her three-year-old daughter, not even knowing whether she’s dead or alive. Danger in the streets escalates, as looting and lawlessness erupts. When she witnesses a moment of violence but isn’t able to intervene, it nearly puts Dessa over the edge.

Fate throws Dessa a curveball when the victim of the crime—a smart-talking 15-year-old foster kid named Beegie—shows up again in the role of savior, linking the pair together. Beegie is a troubled teen with a relentless sense of humor and resilient spirit that enables them both to survive. Both women learn to rely on each other in ways they never imagined possible, to permit vulnerability and embrace the truth of their own lives.

A propulsive page-turner grounded by unforgettable characters and a deep emotional core, JUST GET HOME will strike a chord with mainstream thriller readers for its legitimately heart-pounding action scenes, and with book club audiences looking for weighty, challenging content.

Minutes, days, perhaps weeks after a major earthquake hits, every survivor’s story becomes a journey of one kind or another, a journey to get to a specific place or people. In Just Get home, we meet a teenager and an older woman who agree to help each other. They have nothing in common, really, other than a need to not be alone in this effort. If anything, the two don’t even share a goal; Dessa wants only to get home to her young child while Beegie has no true home and no one who really cares whether she lives or dies.

Dessa and Beegie are brought together randomly by, first, a vicious crime and then by another, circumstances that are not surprising following such a sudden disaster. As we all know, fear and uncertainty evoke the worst kind of behavior as well as acts of kindness and it’s the latter that initially create the bond between two such different women. Watching their connection grow during their struggles is a thing of emotional satisfaction and becomes the heart of Ms. Foley’s compelling tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2020.

An Excerpt from Just Get Home

Prologue

Assist the client in gathering possessions.

Beegie saw it written on a sheet Karen had in her folder. An unticked box next to it.

She knew what it meant. Stuff.

But it was the other meaning that soothed her.

The darker meaning. Possessions.

That was the one she worked over and over in her head.

Beegie imagined her case worker holding up a grey little girl, face obscured by black hair and asking, “This one yours?”  Beegie would nod. Yes, that’s my monster. Together they would shove one snarling, demon-filled person after another into the garbage bags they had been given to pack her things. Soon the bags would fill, growing translucent with strain. When they were done, she and Karen would have to push down on the snapping, bloody faces of Beegie’s possessions so they could close the back of the Prius.

But Karen’s box remained unticked. She didn’t get to help collect Beegie’s possessions, real or unreal, because Beegie’s stuff was already on the street when she got home.

Two garbarge bags filled with nothing special. Her advocate standing next to them with her folder and its helpful advice for what to do when a foster gets kicked out of her home.

Nothing special.

Just almost everything Beegie owned in the world.

Almost but not all.

Whatever.

After Karen dropped her off and Barb had shown her “Her New Home” and given her the rundown on “The Way It Works Here,” Beegie unpacked her possessions into a bureau that the girl who’d lived there before her had made empty, but not clean.

The bottoms of the drawers were covered in spilled glitter. Pink and gold. Beegie had pressed the tips of her fingers into the wood to pull it up, making disco balls of her hands.

But she failed to get it all.

Months later, she would find stray squares of this other girl’s glitter on her clothes. They would catch the light, drawing her back to the moment when she’d finally given up on getting the bureau any cleaner and started to unpack the garbage bags.

There had been things missing.

That Beegie had expected.

But what she had not expected was to find two other neatly folded garbage bags. These were the ones she had used to move her stuff from Janelle’s to the Greely’s. She had kept them, even though back then Mrs. Greely was all smiles and Eric seemed nice, and even Rooster would let her pet him.

Beegie had kept the bags because she’d been around long enough to know that sometimes it doesn’t work out.

In fact, most times it doesn’t work out.

And you need a bag to put your stuff in and you don’t want to have to ask the person who doesn’t want you to live with them anymore to give you one.

But when Mrs. Greely had gathered Beegie’s possessions, she had seen those bags and thought that they were important to Beegie. It made sense to her former foster mother that a “garbage girl” would treasure a garbage bag.

This got Beegie thinking about stuff. The problem of it. The need for things to hold your other things. Things to fix your things. Things to make your things play.

And a place to keep it all.

In Beegie’s brain the problem of possessions multiplied, until she imagined it like a landfill. Things to hold things to hold things, all of it covered with flies, seagulls swooping.

Everything she ever owned was trash or one day would be.

Seeing things this way helped. It made her mind less about the things that hadn’t been in the bag… and other things.

Beegie picked at ownership like a scab, working her way around the edges, flaking it off a bit at a time. Ridding herself of the brown crust of caring.

Because if you care about something it has power over you.

Caring can give someone else the ability to control you and the only real way to own yourself was let go.

So she did.

Or she tried.

Some things Beegie couldn’t quite shed. The want of them stuck to her like the glitter. The pain of their loss catching the light on her sleeves, flashing from the hem of her jeans. The want would wait on her body until it attracted her attention and then eluded the grasping edges of her fingers.

Excerpted from Just Get Home by Bridget Foley, Copyright © 2021 by Bridget Foley. Published by MIRA Books.

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About the Author

Originally from Colorado, Bridget Foley attended NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television. She worked as an actor and screenwriter before becoming a novelist. She now lives a fiercely creative life with her family in Boise, Idaho.

Find the author:

Website // Goodreads // Instagram

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**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Book Review: Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell @drjudymelinek @TJMitchellWS @HarlequinBooks

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Title: Aftershock
Series: A Dr. Jessie Teska Mystery #2
Authors: Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

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Aftershock
A Dr. Jessie Teska Mystery #2
Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
Hanover Square Press, January 2021
ISBN 978-1-335-14729-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff and First Cut.

At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body is located on a construction site under what looks like a collapse beam. But when Dr. Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the tell-tale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice, and prevent him from potentially striking again.

But when a major earthquake strikes San Francisco right at Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive.

With their trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this electrifying new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series offers the highest stakes yet.

By the time the dead body under the construction pipes has been identified, it was clear to me that “hostility” was going to be the word of the day among all parties. Dr. Jessie Teska is short-tempered with nearly everybody, she and Detective Keith Jones obviously have low opinions of each other, the construction workers are about as belligerent as they can be, the crime scene unit is snarky with Jessie and the death scene investigators…the list goes on. It all left me a bit unsettled and wondering if I would end up liking this prickly medical examiner.

The earthquake that strikes adds a level of tension not usually present in a police procedural and it certainly impedes Jessie’s investigation. It also brings her somewhat reckless behavior to the forefront. She probably would have been that way in normal circumstances but the earthquake makes things more lively.

Jessie is, at heart, a snoop, unable to let others do the investigating and that makes for a more interesting story but it also seems a little unorthodox. Still, a plethora of red herrings and misdirections entertained me till the end and I also appreciated the authors’ attention to Jessie’s personal life including her particular baggage and her relationship with her boyfriend, Anup. She’s definitely not the most likeable character I’ve come across but she’s not boring and I’ll be reading the first book as soon as I can.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2021.

About the Authors

Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the novel First Cut. Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children.

Judy: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

T.J.: Twitter // Goodreads

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**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Book Review: Bullet in the Blue Sky by Bill Larkin

Bullet in the Blue SkyBullet in the Blue Sky
Bill Larkin
William Larkin, July 2016
ISBN 978-0-9894002-1-3Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

In the chaotic aftermath of a massive earthquake that leveled much of the Los Angeles region, a LAPD deputy chief sends an elite team of detectives on a rescue mission. They are ordered to set aside all law enforcement duties, to ignore the destruction and to focus on one task: Find LAPD Detective Gavin Shaw, who disappeared just before the earthquake.

Kevin “Schmitty” Schmidt of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department joins five others on the rescue team. With rioting, looting, attacks and homicides rampant in the streets, the six cops have to defend themselves while chasing down leads on the whereabouts of Shaw. The mission takes them through the dizzying war zone and the more they encounter, the more they wonder why they are searching for one man in these extreme circumstances. Why is this man so important to the deputy chief, and why now?

Schmitty discovers that others with high connections are also after Shaw. The questions pile even higher when they learn of a shadowy history between Shaw and the deputy chief. A history with deadly consequences for the team as they uncover a threat that elevates the mission to a race against time.

From the moment I began reading Bullet in the Blue Sky, I was captivated by this story in a myriad of ways. The core premise, that this hodgepodge group of law enforcement officers is tasked with finding one particular detective after the earthquake hits, is a fresh idea (to me, at least) and the author does a fantastic job of melding their mission with the horrible aftermath of the quake. Gang warfare erupts, looting is rampant, and the sheer effort involved in getting anywhere through the massive damage seems as true to life as I could want, never having been in such a situation myself.

The tension rarely lets up and that alone would have kept me turning pages but I also was really drawn to this band of people who can be seen as heroes but who actually are just doing the job they’ve dedicated their lives to. Each one is vividly drawn, especially Schmitty and Mata, and each has his or her own strengths and vulnerabilities, even the quite unlikeable Anderson. I wanted to know not only what would happen to them but also how they would accomplish their goal.

As for the reason behind their search and rescue mission, the reader knows only a tiny bit more than they do and it’s just enough to whet the appetite. I had my own theories but had to keep looking in different directions as more information slowly came to light. When all was said and done, Mr. Larkin’s details took me by surprise page after page until the very end. Even the explanation of the book’s title is filled with meaning.

My only quibble is that some things seem to happen a bit too easily. For instance, they’re in the midst of a disaster and looting is severe but at no point are they unable to find food, water or medical supplies. Granted, the choices might be limited to chips and over-the-counter painkillers but it’s unrealistic to think that such things would still be on the shelves in a looted convenience store or school cafeteria. Still, this was just a minor blip in an otherwise tightly woven story.

Mr. Larkin drew me in initially with two of my favorite themes, law enforcement and disasters, and he never let me down along the way, filling his tale with twists and turns and creating situations that test loyalty and ingenuity while being realistic about what would happen to society after such a major quake. I couldn’t ask for more and Bullet in the Blue Sky will be on my list of favorite books read in 2016.

Note: the author doesn’t seem to categorize his writings as a series but both Schmitty and Mata can be found in earlier work and I’ll be checking them out whenever they become available through an epub retailer.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2016.

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An Excerpt from Bullet in the Blue Sky

The adjunct lieutenant moved into the conference room and stood behind Jenkins and off to the side. Jenkins now addressed our five–person team.

“Your orders are to find Detective Gavin Shaw. He’s a member of Major Crimes and I need him here or I need to know where he is. That’s it. Nothing more.”

As Jenkins paused, several of the detectives looked at each other. Anderson opened her mouth. “Is he—“

Jenkins put up a hand. “You are not, repeat not, to take on law enforcement duties. You are not out to arrest looters, answer radio calls, help firefighters, or anything else you think you ought to be doing. Your only assignment is to find Shaw. And find him as fast as you possibly can. Am I clear?”

“Can I ask the importance of Detective Shaw at this juncture?” Mata said.

“No, you may not. Find him and bring him to me.”

“A search-and-rescue mission?” Anderson said in a puzzled tone.

“Call it that, Anderson. Lieutenant Tallon is in charge and you’d better be aware of what you’re facing. This city is falling apart. Aside from the destruction, there are forty-five thousand gang members, and at least that same number of state parolees and felons on probation. Then there are the opportunists who will loot, burglarize, and kill without the police to stop them. That’s probably a hundred fifty thousand bad guys in a city of rubble and fire.”

Jenkins let that number sink in a moment. The man projected political polish, as I would expect from somebody of his rank, but he didn’t hide his edgy urgency.

He went on. “The LAPD has almost ten thousand sworn, but who knows how many are still alive, much less how many can physically get mobilized. Break that down into twelve-hour shifts and there might be two thousand cops in the whole city at any given time. Three thousand if we’re lucky.”

Lieutenant Tallon said, “Sir that makes the odds against the LAPD about sixty-to-one.” His voice carried both cordiality and self-assurance.

Jenkins nodded. “That’s right. But you will be undercover. Plain clothes and a plain vehicle.”

“Where is Shaw?” Anderson asked.

“I don’t know.” Jenkins nodded to his adjunct who stepped forward and handed a folder to Tallon, then stepped back. “Here is his address and personal information. Best guess is home, but start wherever you need to and find the man.”

Anderson made a small snort. “What if he’s dead?”

“You find him, either way.”

One thing was for sure. Jenkins wasn’t sugarcoating the assignment.

“What about help from the outside?” I asked.

“In time. They’ll mobilize the National Guard and we’ll get relief and search-and-rescue teams, but it’ll take days.”

Tallon said, “We’ll be mostly on our own for the first forty-eight hours. Keep in mind just about every other city in Southern California has the same problems. Some worse, some better.”

“Jesus,” Anderson said.

Tallon said, “Chief, you’ll be here? We bring Shaw here?”

“At this time, I am in command of the department. The chief, assistant and other deputy chiefs have not yet been in contact. That means I’m the Director of Emergency Operations until further notice. That’s all. Dismissed.”

Jenkins motioned to Tallon to follow him and they stepped outside of the conference room with the adjunct lieutenant close behind. Tallon stood about six inches taller than the deputy chief, but Jenkins didn’t seem the least bit intimidated.

The doorway stayed open and I stood up, keeping my back to them, but close enough to hear.

“Lieutenant, I don’t know you very well, but I’ll tell you this with certainty. This is the most difficult challenge you’ll ever face on this job. I was told you have the intellect, resourcefulness, and tenacity to carry this out. Do not disappoint me.”

I heard Jenkins walk away. When I turned, Tallon had locked eyes with the other lieutenant. A beat later, she hurried after her boss.

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About the Author

Bill LarkinBill Larkin writes crime fiction and is the author of two highly-acclaimed books: Bullet in the Blue Sky and Detective Lessons. He has also written several short stories, including “The Highlands” and “Shadow Truth”, both Amazon category bestsellers. Bill previously served as a reserve with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, then the Los Angeles Police Department where he worked in four different divisions and a detective assignment. Bill is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers.

Catch Up With Mr. Larkin:

Bill Larkin’s Website: http://bill-larkin.com/
Bill Larkin’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriteThrillers

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Follow the tour:

08/01 Showcase @ Rockin Book Reviews
08/02 Interview @ Writers and Authors
08/17 Review @ Buried Under Books
08/18 Showcase @ The Reading Frenzy
08/20 Review @ Book Reviews from an Avid Reader
08/22 Review @ the Blacksheep Project
08/24 Guest Post & Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
08/25 Review @ Mystery Suspense Reviews
08/26 Review @ Deal Sharing Aunt
08/28 Showcase @ Writers and Authors
08/29 Review & Interview @ Building Bookshelves
08/30 Review @ Book Reviews, Nature Pictues and Everything in Between
08/31 Review @ just reviews
09/01 Review @ fundinmental
09/03 Review @ b00k r3vi3ws
09/05 Interview @ BooksChatter
09/06 Review @ Wall-to-wall books
09/07 Review & Showcase @ CMash Reads
09/08 Guest Post @ b00k r3vi3ws
09/15 Review @ Rockin Book Reviews
09/24 Review @ A Bookaholic Swede
10/20 Blog Talk Radio w/Fran Lewis

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Book Reviews: Take the Fall by Emily Hainsworth and The Lifeboat Clique by Kathy Parks

Take the FallTake the Fall
Emily Hainsworth
Balzer + Bray, February 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-209422-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

WHO KILLED GRETCHEN MEYER?

Fear grips the residents of Hidden Falls the night Sonia Feldman and her best friend, Gretchen Meyer, are attacked in the woods. Sonia was lucky to escape with her life, but Gretchen’s body is discovered at the bottom of a waterfall. Beautiful, popular, and seemingly untouchable, Gretchen can’t be gone. Even as Sonia struggles with guilt and confusion over having survived, the whole town is looking to her for information. . . . Could she have seen something that will lead the police to the killer?

At the top of the list of suspects is Gretchen’s ex-boyfriend—and Sonia’s longtime enemy—Marcus Perez. So when Marcus comes to Sonia for help clearing his name, she agrees, hoping to find evidence the police need to prove he’s the killer. But as Gretchen’s many secrets emerge and the suspects add up, Sonia feels less sure of Marcus’s involvement and more afraid for herself. Could Marcus—the artist, the screw-up, the boy she might be falling for—have attacked her? Killed her best friend? And if it wasn’t him in the woods that night . . . who could it have been?

From the moment Sonia stumbles out of Hidden Falls Park, battered and frightened nearly to death, her family and the local police are full of questions about what could have happened and then word spreads that her best friend, Gretchen, is missing. Not long after, Gretchen’s body is found at the bottom of the falls and suspicion soon points to Gretchen’s former boyfriend, Marcus. His arrest doesn’t lead to comfort, though, because he has an alibi and is released.

Tension rides high in this story as Sonia becomes more and more desperate to remember enough details of her attack to help find the killer. Out of desperation to get back to as normal a life as possible, she returns to school and to the circle of friends who were actually better friends in past years. As time goes by, Sonia begins to acknowledge that, perhaps, Gretchen was not such a great friend but she also begins to have serious doubts about some of the people around her. Could one of them be the killer?

Sonia is a very likeable girl if far too impulsive and she matures in front of the reader’s eyes as she copes with the tragedy and the fear of who might still be out there wanting to do her harm. She’s surrounded by loving family but, as might be expected, that’s not enough and it may be that friends like Haley and Aisha, the boys in the group like Tyrone and Kip, even a belligerent former friend like Reva, will be the ones to help her recover. They could also be harboring the killer.

There are motives aplenty but, in the end, the identity of the killer/attacker is unexpected and I have to admit I didn’t see it coming until about 3/4 of the way in. This doesn’t mean the author didn’t play fair; far from it as it all makes total sense. I’m not sure if I was just being dense or if Ms. Hainsworth really did craft a surprising reveal but, either way, she got me and I’m impressed. This is the second book I’ve read by Emily Hainsworth and it most certainly won’t be the last if she keeps writing this well.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2016.

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The Lifeboat CliqueThe Lifeboat Clique
Kathy Parks
Katherine Tegen Books, March 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-239396-8
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Some people might say that Denver has a death wish. Why else would she dare to sneak into a Malibu beach party where she’d be surrounded by enemies?

Oh yeah. Croix. Denver never thought in a million years he’d ask her out, but who is she to question this miracle of fate?

Well, that isn’t the only surprise fate has in store.

During the party a tsunami hits the coast of California, and Denver and a handful of others escape death and are swept out to sea. Of course, one of her fellow castaways is none other than her ex-BFF, Abigail, who can barely stand the sight of her.

Trapped on a small boat with the most popular kids in school and waiting to be rescued, Denver wonders what might kill her first—dehydration, sunstroke, or the girl she used to think of as a sister?

My goodness, this book is kind of a mess and, yet, I couldn’t look away. There are far too many coincidences, such as a tree that just happens to be in the right place at the wrong moment, and the whole idea of the tsunami borders on being silly BUT…somehow, it works. In particular, the tsunami provides the setting needed for this character study and the lack of plot really doesn’t matter too much. The thing I really liked is that there are only five teens on this boat floating out to sea so we really get to know each one.

Generally, the issue is that Denver has been ostracized by these other kids, led by her former BFF, Abigail, and Denver claims to not know why. In the following weeks, running out of food and water and losing hope while they drift, they have nothing to do but talk and truths begin to come to light. Perhaps most important, they all learn a great deal about each other and, in some cases, begin to care.

These five—Denver, Abigail, mean girl Sienna, blabbermouth Hayley and drummer/stoner Trevor—are interesting and they all have their own insecurities as well as unexpected strengths. I found myself wishing that they would be found before it was too late but also hoping, if they survived, that they’d remember what they learned about themselves and their boatmates.

It’s unfortunate that the story drags in places and that there is little tension even in their direst moments but I did still enjoy it. Billed as “darkly humorous” and “savagely funny”, the labeling isn’t quite right as it has its funny moments but there’s not much to laugh at once the tsunami hits. It’s a quick read and not very deep—even the worst times didn’t cause me to feel any real emotion—but I think the author’s aim, to have these teens open up to each other and show their true colors, was a good one.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2016.

Book Review: The Kizuna Coast by Sujata Massey

The Kizuna CoastThe Kizuna Coast
A Rei Shimura Mystery #11
Sujata Massey
The Ikat Press, December 2014
Ebook
Also available in hardcover and trade paperback

From the author—

When an earthquake triggers a tsunami that floods Japan’s northeast coast, amateur sleuth Rei Shimura is pushed into her most rugged adventure yet.

It starts with an SOS from Rei’s beloved elderly friend, the antiques dealer Mr. Ishida, who’s trapped among thousands on the ravaged Tohoku coast. Rei rushes from Hawaii to blacked-out Tokyo, where she discovers Ishida Antiques may have been burglarized and its cuddly watchdog, Hachiko, needs a caregiver.

Rei and Hachiko board a bus full of disaster volunteers headed to the damaged town of Sugihama. Once there, they learn about the disappearance during the tsunami of Mr. Ishida’s antiques apprentice, Mayumi, a troubled young woman from a famous lacquer-making family.

Making use of her volunteer friends, as well as her knowledge of Japanese manners and antiques, Rei investigates Mayumi’s suspicious disappearance. Complicating the situation is a police force overwhelmed by counting the dead, and a stalker who’s set his or her own sights on Rei.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Japan and the world watched in horror as the ruinous effects unfolded, including the frightening damage to a nuclear plant and the deaths of more than 15,000 people. Four years later, more than 300,000 survivors still live in temporary housing and many who were exposed to radiation from the nuclear plant are coping with health problems.

Rei Shimura’s first thoughts are to find Yasushi Ishida, her mentor who is not answering his phone, but she soon discovers that while he is alive, Mayumi, a young apprentice, is missing. Rei, as any of her fans would expect, heads to Japan right away, directly into the devastation. She has solved mysteries before but this one will test her limits as she encounters destruction and untold suffering everywhere she goes.

Rei has always been one of my favorite characters in the mystery world, especially among those who take me to exotic places, and I have missed her and her inability to succumb to defeatism in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. Her quirkiness and humor are infectious and I’m thrilled to have her back in my life.

Note: I sound like a crazy fan, don’t I? One might even say I’m a bit of a stalker but I really do know that Rei is a fictional sleuth 😉

Sujata Massey writes a cracking good mystery (with a fabulously helpful cast of characters!) but it’s easy to see that the earthquake and tsunami struck a chord in her. Much of The Kizuna Coast revolves around the aftermath and Ms. Massey‘s emotions clearly shine through Rei’s own. I’ve always enjoyed this series but, somehow, The Kizuna Coast has a depth to it I haven’t seen before and I appreciated the way the author brought heart to a terrible event. I can’t recommend this book highly enough whether others have read the series from the beginning or not.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.

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The proceeds from all ebook copies of
The Kizuna Coast sold in March 2015 will be
donated by the author to support a
program for tsunami survivors in Japan.

Book Reviews: Murder in the Worst Degree by F.M. Meredith and Runaway Man by David Handler

Murder in the Worst DegreeMurder in the Worst Degree
F.M. Meredith
Oak Tree Press, March 2014
ISBN 978-1-61009-145-9
Trade Paperback

Although Murder in the Worst Degree is the tenth book in F.M. Meredith’s Rocky Bluff PD series, you don’t need to have read the nine previous novels to pick up on the action. I believe the several characters would’ve been easier to keep track of if you’d read the earlier books, so this is a hint that you might want to read a couple of those first. It’s not completely necessary, though, and it isn’t long before you learn who is who. And the setting—the California coast—is so vividly depicted you can almost taste the salt air. I loved the foggy scenes.

The story begins with a couple surfer dudes discovering the battered body of an elderly man in the water. Turns out he didn’t drown, which brings a murder investigation to the fore. Suspects are rampant. The men and women of the Rocky Bluff PD are soon knee deep in not only contending with a new chief of police, the murder, and what may be a serial rapist on the loose—when an earthquake hits. Good stuff, for sure.

F.M. Meredith ties up all the loose ends concerning the mysteries, and doesn’t neglect the drama of her character’s lives in this most enjoyable short novel.

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

 

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Runaway ManRunaway Man
David Handler
Minotaur, August 2013
ISBN: 978-1-250-01162-6
Hardcover

Benji Golden is the eponymous protagonist in this newest book by David Handler, so called because since he got his license as a p.i. he has gotten a reputation for tracking down young runaways. His late father was a hero cop, a homicide detective whose exploits were made famous when a movie was done about his capture of a subway serial killer who had terrorized New York City a couple of decades ago. Since his death a couple of years back the p.i. agency he’d founded is run by his widow, Abby, who had the distinction in her youth of being “the only Jewish pole dancer in New York City,” under the name Abraxas (nee Abby Kaminsky from Sheepshead Bay). Baby-faced Benji (nickname “Bunny”) still calls her “boss,” to which she strongly objects. They are ably assisted by Rita, a gorgeous 42-year-old computer wizard who was a lap dancer back in the day, and Gus, their “grizzled office cat.”

When a partner in a white-shoe Park Avenue law firm comes into their office and wants to hire Benji to find a young man, a college senior who has gone missing and who is apparently about to inherit a considerable amount of money from an unnamed client, the very large fee offered makes it difficult to turn down, despite the enigmatic way in which the situation is presented: No names, no clues, and no mention of the law firm’s name allowed. Benji, being the resourceful investigator that he is, and assisted by a cop who was like a big brother to him, his father’s mentee, Lieutenant Larry “Legs” Diamond (I loved that!), does track down the young man in question, but at some cost: Several murders soon take place, the ensuing investigation at one point leading to a gathering of the strangest bedfellows imaginable, including the Police Commissioner. Benji’s own life becomes threatened, but he is determined to find out who is behind these crimes, and hopefully stay alive in the process.

This was one of the most enjoyable reads, and protagonists, I’ve come across in a while. The writing is sprinkled with terrific wit and humor. The author also includes a lot of fascinating New York history, of much of which I, a life-long resident of the city and its suburbs, was unaware. Parenthetically, this Brooklyn-born-and-raised reviewer loved that Benji’s mother and grandmother were raised in that borough (and I forgive him for having a poster of NY Yankee great Derek Jeter hanging on his wall), and that he loves original soundtrack albums of great Broadway musicals. Runaway Man is a quick and terrific read, and is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, February 2014.