A Trio of Teeny Reviews @ajhackwith @AceRocBooks @DeanStPress @GrandCentralPub

The Library of the Unwritten
A Novel from Hell’s Library #1
A. J. Hackwith
Ace, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-98480-637-6
Trade Paperback

In a unique way of looking at what Hell must be like, there are books that never got finished, or even started, by their authors and someone—Claire—has to be in charge of those books. Why? Because the characters in those stories can escape and create havoc, of course 😉

When one particular hero goes on the run, looking for his creator, Claire is in hot pursuit along with her assistant and a demon. They all soon discover they’re really on a quest to find a particular powerful artifact, the Devil’s Bible, that Heaven also wants and a fallen angel is determined to redeem himself by recovering. If Claire and her crew don’t find it first, Heaven and Hell are likely to explode into war with Earth caught in the middle.

To put it simply, I loved this book that’s full of adventure, mystery, humor and a wealth of marvelous beings and, when it comes time to re-read it—and I’m very sure I will—I think I’ll try the audiobook for a fresh take.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye
The Anthony Bathurst Mysteries #3
Brian Flynn
Dean Street Press, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-913054-39-7
Trade Paperback

Gentleman sleuth Anthony Bathurst and Scotland Yard’s Chief Detective-Inspector Richard Bannister work together to discover how three separate cases are indeed not separate but intertwined to a fare thee well. Blackmail, murder, indiscretions, thievery, hidden identities and a “magnificent blue-shaded emerald”…all come together clue by clue in this delightful traditional mystery full of red herrings that had me coming and going, always eager to follow the next lead.

Aficionados of Golden Age mysteries will want to get their hands on this long-forgotten book as soon as possible. You might say it’s criminal that Brian Flynn‘s works fell into a black hole many years ago but, now that new editions of some of his titles are being released, we all have a chance to savor a journey back in time.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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Old Bones
Nora Kelly #1
Preston & Child
Grand Central Publishing, August 2019
ISBN 978-1538747223
Hardcover

We’ve met Nora Kelly before in some of the Pendergast novels and I’ve always liked her so I’m delighted she has her own series now. Along with Nora, we meet another character from the past, Corrie Swanson, who used to be a Goth teen with purple hair and attitude. Her connection to Pendergast when he hired her to drive him around during a case led her to become an FBI agent and she’s still trying to corral her mouthy rebellious streak.

When historian Clive Benton convinces archaeologist Nora Kelly and her employer, the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, to undertake a search for and excavation of the Lost Camp, an offshoot of the Donner Party’s known snowbound locations, no one expects the FBI to intervene in the dig on site. Agent Corrie Swanson has been investigating the possible ties among a string of grave robberies and a missing person and has, perhaps precipitously, connected them to the dig. Her arrival at the site leads to a shutdown and murders and she and Nora are forced to work together to find the killer(s).

Although the identity of the killer(s) was a bit too predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed Old Bones and relish the promise of more collaborations between Nora and Corrie with a little Pendergast thrown in 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

Book Review: Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

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Title: Dead to Me
Author: Mary McCoy
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genres: Mystery, Young Adult

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Dead to MeDead to Me
Mary McCoy
Hyperion, March 2015
ISBN 978-1-4231-8712-7
Hardcover

From the publisher—

“Don’t believe anything they say.”

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking.

Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of the past.

There is plenty about Dead to Me that I should not like very much. I generally don’t care for books set in the film world, I’m not crazy about noir and/or hardboiled private eyes and the late 1940’s leave me kind of indifferent. Why on earth, then, did I sign up for this blog tour?

Truth is, I was intrigued by the story description, particularly the notion of a teenaged girl working so hard to get to the truth and find out who would do such a thing to her sister and why, not to mention learn why Annie had disappeared years before. The time period involved made it more interesting despite my usual antipathy precisely because Alice would have so much going against her in this era when teen girls were not exactly held in high esteem. Also, let’s face it, I was pulled in by my immediate feeling that this could be very Nancy Drew-ish and I have a fondness for that young lady. I’m happy to say that Ms. McCoy didn’t let me down in any way. Within the first three pages, I was captivated.

From the beginning, Alice shows herself to be intelligent and more than a bit nosy, great qualifications for a budding detective. Along the way, she encounters those who would harm her but also those who want to help and she needs them because the surprises start immediately when Alice  learns that Annie wouldn’t want their emotionally distant father to know what has happened. Alice isn’t perfect, though, in her zeal to get to the truth; she makes a lot of mistakes as you might expect and, without a private investigator named Jerry Shaffer, she likely wouldn’t have gotten very far.

A number of the characters in Dead to Me are seemingly quite stereotypical on the surface, right down to the seedy private eye and dirty cops, but Ms. McCoy gives them a bit of flair that makes them feel very real. Alice  even smacks a little of Veronica Mars, another of my favorite teen girl detectives 😉 I’ve become quite fond of Alice and Jerry and really hope Ms. McCoy will bring them back.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2015.

About the Author

Mary McCoyMary McCoy is a librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. She has also been a contributor to On Bunker Hill and the 1947project, where she wrote stories about Los Angeles’s notorious past. She grew up in western Pennsylvania and studied at Rhodes College and the University of Wisconsin. Mary now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. Her debut novel, Dead To Me, is a YA mystery set in the glamorous, treacherous world of 1940s Hollywood.

 

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