Book Review: Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson @JoshilynJackson @WmMorrowBooks

Mother May I
Joshilyn Jackson
William Morrow, April 2021
ISBN 978-0-06-285534-3
Hardcover

Bree Cabbat is happily married with a handsome and loving husband, Trey, who is a lawyer.  She also has two teenage daughters, and a brand new baby boy, Robert.  While helping out at the Private School her daughters attend where her eldest Anna-Claire is rehearsing for the upcoming adapted school version of  the musical “Grease”,  Bree sets baby Robert, asleep in his car seat, on the floor, at the rear of the Balcony.

It seems like only minutes later Bree’s nightmare begins.  She glances behind her to check on her son, only to find the car seat empty. Robert has vanished. He’s been kidnapped. Left behind on the Balcony floor is a note telling Bree not to speak to anyone, but to go home immediately where she’ll be contacted.

At home she finds a small bag with a cell phone and a small package of pills, hanging on her front door.  The cell phone rings and Bree answers. The woman on the other end of the phone tells Bree if she follows her instructions to the letter, and completes the task she sets, her son will be returned to her.  The caller adds that someone will be watching her and reminds her that if she contacts the Police or her husband or anyone she’ll never see her baby again.

Bree has no option but to agree. The task, while a little unusual, seems harmless.  What choice does she have?  To her horror the result is heartbreaking and devastating, thrusting her into a minefield of guilt and pain.

It’s only been in the last year that I’ve been introduced to this author.  I’ve read two other titles,  Almost Sisters and Never Have I Ever.  In each of her novels the characters are well drawn, strong, emotional and likeable people.

The reader is quickly pulled into Bree’s story.  The welfare and safe return of her son is the driving force behind her actions, nothing else matters.   But as the chilling reason behind the kidnapping is revealed her world is turned upside down.

This will be on my Top Ten books of 2021.  Check it out… I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2021.

Book Review: The Fairfax Incident by Terrence McCauley

The Fairfax Incident
Terrence McCauley
Polis Books, June 2018
ISBN: 978-1-947993-05-1
Trade Paperback

Set in Manhattan in the years between the World Wars, Nazi spies are stepping up their game. WWI set many (most) of the American populace against anyone of German ancestry, and the rising Nazi party is using their resentment to recruit men, money, and resources to a battle they believe this time they’ll win. From those highly placed in society to the lowliest, loyal Americans will need to be vigilant and ruthless in rooting them out, because murder and blackmail are the Nazi’s standard operating tools.

Charlie Doherty, a New York City police officer, at great personal risk saved a wealthy, highly-placed gentleman’s son when the boy was kidnapped. After Charlie was discharged from the force by his crooked boss, Mr. Van Dorn set him up as a private detective. Now, on Van Dorn’s recommendation, a Mrs. Fairfax has asked him to look into her husband’s apparent suicide. What Charlie finds as he investigates is not only a gathering of cold-eyed killers, but a beautiful seductress and a plot that will rock the country.

The novel, fast-paced, full of tension, and featuring great characters reads like old noir, pulp fiction. This is one of those books you don’t want to put down, and I, for one, will be looking for the next Charlie Doherty adventure.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2019.
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: Desert Kill Switch by Mark S. Bacon

Desert Kill Switch
A Nostalgia City Mystery #2
Mark. S. Bacon
Black Opal Books, 2017
ISBN 978-1-626947-19-1
Trade Paperback

A great cover for a novel with excellent possibilities. Unfortunately, the opportunities were never quite realized. To be clear, this is a largely enjoyable story with an eminently satisfactory conclusion. The characters are interesting and have elements which are unusual, intriguing and certainly worth following in future stories.

The beginning of the novel is particularly interesting. Lyle Deming, the stepfather of a college girl, is driving her through the desert so she can get some pictures for a class project. They happen on a murder scene and Deming is desperate to shield the girl from the bullet-riddled body. He drives away, calls the local sheriff and a short-time later learns they can’t find either the body or the vintage 1970 Pontiac that was parked next to the body. The car is important because Deming is working as a cab driver for a new Arizona tourist attraction called Nostalgia City, designed as a trip back to the nineteen seventies.

The public relations and marketing office of the Arizona nostalgia site is run by Kate Sorenson. Readers meet her first in Reno where she is attending Rockin’ Summer Days, an annual Reno event, as a vendor for Nostalgia City to recruit travelers. When she has a confrontation with a local auto dealer of questionable reputation, things get complicated.

The two characters come together, become entangled at several levels and ultimately murder and thievery get sorted. The use of kill switches is explained, although the kill switch of the title seems to almost be an afterthought. The novel is neither memorable or inferior, it just is, neither memorable nor especially disappointing.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, November 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: American Static by Tom Pitts and A Case of Vineyard Poison by Philip R. Craig

American Static
Tom Pitts
Down & Out Books, June 2017
ISBN: 978-1-943402-84-7
Trade Paperback

This novel is a long, detailed, twisting trail of a plot. Along the way two small-town cops, and readers, encounter many characters, nearly all of whom are consummate criminals in that vibrant, unusual city, Bagdad by the Bay, San Francisco. It follows the unwanted adventure of a rural California student, carrying weed from Humboldt County for friends to deliver to recipients in the city. Robbed and beaten at bus stop, Steven is collected and succored by one of the most relentlessly evil personalities one is ever likely to meet in a single story.

The student, Steven, left penniless and beaten in a small northern California town, is carrying a load of marijuana to people in San Francisco when he is set upon, viciously beaten and robbed. An interested bystander offers Steven a ride to` San Francisco with a stop or two along the way. There is a brief suggestion of connection between the young men who robbed and beat Steven, and Quinn, driving a stolen vehicle, who dispatches a prominent winery owner.

Two policemen from Calisto set out to find Quinn who has disappeared into San Francisco and begins a horrifying series of vendettas against the employees of a major crime figure in the city. His primary motive is to find the daughter of the crime figure, a strung-out teenager living on dope and the streets.

Somehow, Steven, now terrified of Quinn, connects with the girl, Teresa, and they flee together. The chase is on. Quinn after the teens, a corrupt cop chasing Quinn, followed by two Calisto cops and everybody under threat from the crime boss and his killer crew.

Complicated, slick maneuvering and sudden brutal murder is the hallmark of this well-designed novel. I lost count of the number of murders, shootings, knifings, beatings and car chase events. Suffice it to write, the novel is excellently conceived, full of abrupt violent action. I give it a strong recommendation of type.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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A Case of Vineyard Poison
A Martha’s Vineyard Mystery #6
Philip R. Craig
Avon, July 1996
ISBN: 978-0-380-72679-0
Mass Market Paperback

This novel is part of an extensive series of mysteries set on Martha’s Vineyard.

Vineyard wedding bells are about to chime for J.W. Jackson and Zee Madieras. Zee’s bank account is suddenly one hundred thousand unexplained dollars richer. The bank calls it a glitch, and two days later the money has disappeared. Coincidentally, the college student lying dead in J.W.’s driveway, done in by a dose of locally grown poisonous herbs, recently withdrew a hundred grand from her own account.

Ex-cop J. W. Jackson is intrigued. Intrigue deepens when he is suddenly attacked by a local paramedic. The path he follows introduces readers to a number of interesting characters on the island and a scheme to parlay computer expertise into a massive swindle.

This novel is not as violent nor as action filled as are earlier books in this series. There are several lengthy passages about the island and about fishing. However, the cerebral gymnastics around the solution to the murder are presented in an interesting way and the vividly descriptive passages touring Martha’s Vineyard and fishing, cooking and eating are interesting and judiciously blended with the murder mystery. Craig is a good writer and the dialogue is expertly used to further the plot and provide a pleasant experience for any reader.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: August Snow by Stephen Mack Jones

August Snow
Stephen Mack Jones
Soho Press, February 2017
ISBN 978-1-61695-718-6
Hardcover

August Snow is the third book I’ve read so far this year that’s going on my “Best Reads of 2017” list. Yes, I’ve read other good ones, but the “best” are special in some way.

What’s special about August Snow, is August Snow. Jones has created a truly excellent character, heroic, honest, blessed with his friends and he knows it. The problem may lie in figuring out who his friends are. His enemies are pretty obvious.

August has been gone from Detroit for a year, trying to drown painful memories in travel and booze. He’s got plenty of money, having won a $12 million dollar case against the city after he lost his job as a cop. August, you see, blew the whistle on corrupt politicians and the police force running the city and they had him wrongfully dismissed from the force. But now he’s come home to live in his parents’ old home in Mexicantown.

All too soon he’s asked to investigate what may be embezzled funds from Eleanor Paget’s wealth management bank. He turns her plea for help down, only to learn that the very next day she’s committed suicide. Or has she? August doesn’t believe it, which soon lands him right in the midst of murder and more corruption than you can shake a stick at.

You may think you’ve read this plot before⏤Lord knows there’s enough corruption in the real world to make the premise almost commonplace⏤but you won’t have had a hero like August Snow.

Twists and turns carry the reader on a wild ride. The good guys keep you hoping for justice. The bad guys will twist you in knots.

Author Stephen Mack Jones is a novelist to watch!

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, April 2017.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder and Four Furlongs.

Book Reviews: Baby Shark’s Showdown at Chigger Flats by Robert Fate and The Right Wrong Number by Jim Nesbitt

Baby Shark’s Showdown at Chigger Flats
Baby Shark #5
Robert Fate
Robert Bealmear, July 2012
Ebook

For readers of racing, abrupt and heavily plot-driven novels, here’s a fine example. Plus, it’s very well written with unusual and intriguing characters set in the blasted climate of the vast Texas oil fields. The action begins in the very beginning. In Fort Worth, Texas in 1960. Otis and Baby are on their way out of their office to a surveillance job. By the time the chapter ends, one guy has been dispatched by car bumper, another by .38, a third would-be assassin by heavy-duty handgun slug and at least one thug semi-crushed where he sat in their vehicle.

The cops show up of course, and some minor nicks and scrapes are duly attended to. Meanwhile, snappy dialogue between Otis and Baby and a few other characters effectively establish the characters, professions and attitudes of some characters. And, importantly, we get the foundation of the plot. A vanquished adversary, a very bad person, has been released from the Texas Penitentiary on compassionate leave. Now, word is out he wants revenge, and he has a lot of help.

Well, there is almost no let-down in pace, narrative voice or dialog between the characters for the entire novel. A delightful, bloody thriller of a crime novel.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2016.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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The Right Wrong Number
An Ed Earl Burch Novel #2
Jim Nesbitt
Spotted Mule Press, February 2017
ISBN: 978-0-9983294-0-6
Trade Paperback

This novel is filled with wrong numbers. Nearly every character is wrong, is one you would not enjoy having dinner with. Most of us would be afraid to walk down a dark street or even have a beer with any of them for fear of getting caught in the violent wash of a sudden shoot-out. Make no mistake, this is what we call a nasty, hard-boiled murder story. There’s no mystery here. The bad guys are carefully identified and described. There are no good guys, even the cops are at best flawed and mostly getting through life by bending the rules whenever necessary.

This exciting, roiling, novel is set in Texas and the action, nearly constant, runs from throttlings in Houston to gunfire, rape and murder in Dallas, as well as several points in between. The southern border to Mexico is breached as well. The story follows ex-cop, and former homicide dick, former footballer, Ed Earl Burch. He is paying in pain for his history and the loss of his gold shield due to questionable actions. He is over-weight, under-paid, living half the time from paid gigs as a private detective who has a rep that he’ll take on any sort of case. He seems to live the rest of the time wound up in the naked, sweaty limbs of ex-wives, current girlfriends and sundry other females, all of questionable social status. The sex is often violent, sometimes brutal, explicit and frequent.

Burch becomes entangled in a complicated arrangement involving the transfer of large amounts of cash and illegal hard goods among banks and assorted gangs across international boundaries. Burch agrees to aid the wife of one of the principals in trying to wrest large chunks of money from her mate. Her attraction to Burch is not so much in desperately needed coin of the realm as it is in the use of her body. Their sex is frequent and frank and varied. The more they plan and maneuver, the more collateral damage occurs, to foe and friend alike.

The pace of the author’s writing is mostly fast, furious and relentless. Occasionally he lapses into rambling philosophical observations, but those too are well-written, as is the entirety of the novel. This is certainly not a crime novel with universal reader appeal, but it will have strong appeal to a particular segment of the reading public.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter

the-kept-womanThe Kept Woman
The Will Trent Series #10
(including 2 novellas)

Karin Slaughter
William Morrow, September 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-243021-2
Hardcover

From the publisher—

With the discovery of a murder at an abandoned construction site, Will Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is brought in on a case that becomes much more dangerous when the dead man is identified as an ex-cop.

Studying the body, Sara Linton—the GBI’s newest medical examiner and Will’s lover—realizes that the extensive blood loss didn’t belong to the corpse. Sure enough, bloody footprints leading away from the scene indicate there is another victim—a woman—who has vanished . . . and who will die soon if she isn’t found.

Will is already compromised, because the site belongs to the city’s most popular citizen: a wealthy, powerful, and politically connected athlete protected by the world’s most expensive lawyers—a man who’s already gotten away with rape, despite Will’s exhaustive efforts to put him away.

But the worst is yet to come. Evidence soon links Will’s troubled past to the case . . . and the consequences will tear through his life with the force of a tornado, wreaking havoc for Will and everyone around him, including his colleagues, family, friends—and even the suspects he pursues.

If you ask me—and you know you want to ;-)—there is no better thriller author writing today than Karin Slaughter. When I first encountered her work years ago, I was completely blown away and she has never once let me down. The first few pages of The Kept Woman assured me that Ms. Slaughter is in fine form once again.

Those first paragraphs (a prologue of only three pages) set the tone with two women clearly in danger, not only of dying but of further attack, and I was riveted within seconds. That’s one of the author’s real strengths, that she can pull the reader in with a vengeance almost immediately and, for me, I know I’m about to get a great story full of suspense. It doesn’t hurt that I also adore the two protagonists, Will Trent and Sara Linton, and I appreciate that their personal story always gets advanced in some way without the author focusing too much on their relationship.

When Will is called in to investigate the death of a former cop, he’s already a bit hampered by an adversarial connection with the owner of the property, one who enjoys a certain amount of political protection, but that’s just the tip of a very nasty iceberg and Will himself will be caught up beyond his control. More than ever before, his past and present will collide and leave his life and emotional stability in turmoil.

I have to restrain myself from saying much about the plot because there’s so much going on that it would be all too easy to fall into the spoiler trap. Suffice it to say the police work aided by forensics drive the reader inexorably through one twist after another on the way to getting to the truth. A word of warning, though….if violence and gruesome crime scenes are really not your cup of tea, you probably won’t want to read this (but you’ll be missing out on a stellar crime fiction series).

And, so, she’s done it again, much to my delight. Ms. Slaughter’s ability to weave a story full of tension and surprise with characters who show both strength and vulnerability (especially female characters) never seems to fade, even a little, and I’m a happy fan once again.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2016.

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Goodreads

Purchase Links:

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

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About the Author

karin-slaughter-2Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestselling standalones, Cop Town and Pretty Girls. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print around the world.

Find out more about Karin at her website and connect with her on Facebook.

 

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Follow the tour:

Tuesday, September 20th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, September 21st: The Book Bag

Thursday, September 22nd: Buried Under Books

Friday, September 23rd: Books and Bindings

Monday, September 26th: Read-Love-Blog

Tuesday, September 27th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, September 28th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, September 29th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, October 3rd: A Bookworm’s World

Wednesday, October 5th: Vox Libris

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