Book Review: Death on Tuckernuck by Francine Mathews @FMathewsAuthor @soho_press

Death on Tuckernuck
A Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery #6
Francine Mathews
Soho Crime, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-61695-993-7
Hardcover

Let me start by saying that I haven’t read previous books in Francine Mathews‘ series featuring Detective Meredith (Merry) Folger and Death on Tuckernuck has introduced me to just what I have been missing!  Merry Folger is a detective on the Nantucket (MA) police force who is about to get married when she is called to investigate a case in which the Coast Guard found two people shot in a boat drifting off Nantucket.  In the meantime, a Category 3 hurricane is headed for New England and everyone on Nantucket and the small private island of Tuckernuck is  boarding up windows and otherwise preparing for a huge storm.

Dionis Mather and her father, Jack Mather, run a small business getting supplies from the mainland for people on Nantucket and Tuckernuck and taking care of properties when the summer folk leave for the winter.  With the storm approaching, they are busy getting homes ready to weather the storm and taking people off the islands to shelters until the storm is over.  One of the major properties on Tuckernuck is owned by a very rich, very arrogant star NFL quarterback who happens to own a couple of horses along with his huge home on the island.  He has a groom for the horses, but she left, unwilling to stay alone on Tuckernuck while a hurricane is bearing down on the island.  On instructions from the owner’s personal assistant in New York that if the Mathers don’t go and take care of the horses they will be sued if anything happens to them, Dionis reluctantly agrees to go and see to them.  As it turns out, she runs into much bigger problems than the two horses.

I don’t want to say much more about the story because I don’t want to give away too much about the plot.  Suffice it to say that Mathews has written a really good mystery, one that kept me reading far into the night until I finished it.  I highly recommend this book.  For sure, I will be looking for the first five books in this series.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, July 2020.

Book Review: Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks @ThomasNelson @partnersincr1me

Relative Silence
Carrie Stuart Parks
Thomas Nelson, July 2020
ISBN 9780785226185
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

A powerful family with lots of secrets. A forensic artist with his own tragedies. And a hurricane drawing bearing down on their private island.

Fifteen years ago Piper Boone’s only child died in a boating accident, and Piper’s almost perfect life came to an end too. After living through a divorce and losing her job, she retreats to Curlew Island and her childhood home—a secluded mansion for the politically powerful Boone family, who are practically American royalty.

But Piper’s desire to become a recluse is shattered when a mass shooter opens fire and kills three women at a café where Piper is having lunch. The crisis puts her family in the spotlight by dredging up rumors of the so-called Curlew Island Curse, which whispers say has taken the lives of several members of the Boone family, including Piper’s father and sister.

Forensic artist Tucker Landry also survives the shooting and is tasked with the job of sketching a portrait of the shooter with Piper. They forge a bond over their shared love of movies and tragic pasts. But when police discover a connection between the shooting and two more murders on Curlew Island, they face a more terrible lineup of suspects than they could have imagined: Piper’s family.

Unraveling the family’s true history will be the key to Piper’s survival—or her certain death.

There are certain families that, over time, become what we peons call American Royalty and not necessarily in an admiring way. Some, like the Kennedys and the Bushes, are based in politics, while others like the Hearst and Rockefeller families are rooted in such trades as business or media. However they achieve their lofty status, they all share two traits, huge amounts of money and access to power. This is the world that Sandpiper Boone lives in and, like so many of those other powerful people, it gives her no shelter from tragedy.

Piper has never been able to move on since her three-year-old daughter died fifteen years ago and now she’s been suddenly thrust into a more public devastation, being in the crosshairs of a mass shooter that she can identify. The man who saved her life, Tucker Landry, is a forensic artist and agrees to work with her to develop a sketch of the killer and, before long, leads start to point towards Piper’s own family.

To say that the Boone family is riddled with terrible secrets is putting it mildly and Ms. Parks has crafted a story that is high on tension and fear, one that kept me up reading till deep into the night. “Betrayal” becomes the watchword and Piper and Tucker are a great couple, not so much because of their growing attraction to each other but because of the trust that develops between them. When Piper learns something that’s enough to send lesser beings around the bend, Tucker is there to help her stand against enormous manipulation but they’re also in the path of physical destruction in the form of a hurricane heading right for Curlew Island. Let the nailbiting begin!

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2020.

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

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An Excerpt from Relative Silence

Chapter 1

Marion Inlet, South Carolina

Present Day

I couldn’t breathe. A man’s weight across my body crushed me to the sidewalk. The grit of the cement and shattered glass dug into my cheek. My ears rang with the craack, craack of gunfire and the screams of the wounded. A thousand bees stung my ankle. I kept my eyes tightly shut. If I opened them, I knew I’d see the sightless gaze of my friend Ami, stretched out beside me. Even with my eyes closed, I could still see Ami’s face. I should be the one lying dead.

I tried to cover my ears.

“Don’t move.” The man’s voice whispered in my ear, his breath stirring my hair.

I froze.

A final craack!

The man jerked. The shooting stopped. Like the eye of a hurricane, silence. Then the screaming resumed. In the distance, a siren, then a second.

The man didn’t move.

My shoulder felt warm. Something wet slithered around my neck.

In spite of the man’s warning, I inched my hand upward and touched my shoulder. I opened my eyes and looked at my fingers. Blood.

Adrenaline shot through my body. I was boxed in, closed off. My claustrophobia took over, shoving aside my fear of the gunman. I shoved upward, shifting the man sideways.

He groaned.

Sliding from underneath him, I had a chance to see who’d knocked me from my chair and covered me with his body when the gunman opened fire. He was about my age—midthirties—dressed in a light-tan cotton sports jacket and bloody jeans. His gray-white skin contrasted sharply with his shaggy black hair. He opened his eyes briefly, revealing ultramarine-blue irises, before closing them again. Blood streamed from a gash on his forehead. More blood pooled around his right leg.

I was breathing with fast, hiccupping breaths. I wanted to put my hands over my ears to block the screaming, but they were covered in blood. Maybe this is a movie. Patriot Games. Harrison Ford . . . No. Movies don’t smell.

What year was Patriot Games made? I couldn’t remember.

The distant sirens grew overwhelming, then stopped. Police officers, guns drawn, swarmed the overturned chairs and tables of the outdoor café. Swiftly they checked the motionless dead, the sobbing survivors, the wailing injured.

“Help! Here! Over here!” I waved my arm to get someone’s attention. Sliding closer, I lifted my protector’s head onto my lap, smearing his cheeks with blood. Wait. Was his head supposed to be below his heart? “Please help me!” A female officer raced over. “He’s shot.” I cradled his head in my lap. “Hurry. Please hurry and get help.”

The officer spoke into the mic on her shoulder. “Dispatch? Where are those ambulances?”

The reply was a jumble of words and static.

“Okay, ma’am,” the officer said to me. “Stay calm. The ambulances are on their way. I need you to put your hand on your husband’s leg and apply pressure to slow the bleeding—”

Her mic squawked again. “Ten-four,” she said. “I’ll be right back.”

“He’s not my—” The officer raced off before I could finish. “Husband,” I whispered. I pressed a trembling hand on the man’s injury. Please, God, don’t let him die like this.

He moaned but didn’t open his eyes.

Another officer, this time male, came over. “Are you injured? You’re covered in blood.”

“It’s his. At least I think it’s his.” Was I hurt? I didn’t like this movie. It was filmed all shiny.

Everyone moved in slow motion.

“Did you see the gunman?”

“Briefly.”

He nodded, then waved his hand to get someone’s attention. An EMT appeared and crouched beside me. “Are you okay?” His voice was distant and slow. “Laady, aarre yoouu ooookaaaaaayy?”

“Y-yes, I think so. He’s . . .” My vision narrowed. Blackness lapped around my brain. “Lunch . . . we were having lun—”

The blackness took over.

***

I opened my eyes. Above me was a green canvas umbrella. Did I have an umbrella in my bedroom? I didn’t think so.

What a strange dream.

My bed was hard. And gritty. And smelled of fried fish mixed with . . . the pungent stench of body fluids.

Turning my head, I blinked to make sense of what I was seeing. Overturned tables, chairs, a purse. Golden brown with the letter C forming a pattern. Coach purse. My purse. Spattered by a shattered bowl of creamy shrimp and grits.

Not my bed. Not a dream. Not a movie.

Sound finally registered. Talking, more sirens. Yelled directions.

I slowly pushed up to a sitting position. Uniformed officers were corralling witnesses, and EMTs were treating the wounded. Next to me was a pool of blood. The man—Harrison Ford? No, he was an actor. The man who’d saved me was gone.

When I looked the other way, Ami came into focus. Her eyes were open, looking beyond me. Beyond this life. A pool of her blood had reached the puddle from the man’s injury.

All my senses had returned, but I still felt . . . detached. Should I make a list? Write down what happened and make everything neat and tidy? I’d been having lunch. At a café. A gunman opened fire. That’s right. And my friend . . .

I reached over and took Ami’s hand. The warmth had already left it. She wore coral nail polish and an engagement ring. Did we talk about her engagement?

A giant lump in my throat made it difficult to swallow. She’s so still. Just a few minutes ago she was animatedly talking to me, like Téa Leoni in Spanglish. 2004. See, I remembered the year that movie was made. Why couldn’t I remember Patriot Games?

Why was I obsessing over movies now? And lists?

Movies and lists are safe.

My eyes burned, but no tears appeared. I hadn’t cried in more than fifteen years. “I’m so very sorry, m’friend. I . . .” I shook my head and placed Ami’s hand gently on the sidewalk.

The shooting. The blood. My dead friend. It was all real.

Looking away from her, I spotted the man being placed into an ambulance. He saved my life and I didn’t even know his name.

I started to get to my feet. An EMT raced over and gently placed her hand on my shoulder, easing me back down. “Easy there. It won’t be much longer. We’re just getting the badly wounded off first—”

“I’m fine,” I lied. “Harrison Ford—”

“What?”

You’re not in a movie. I pointed. “Um, that man, the one being put into the ambulance—who is he?”

The woman looked in the direction I was pointing. “I don’t know.” She called to the EMTs loading the man. “Hey, guys, what hospital are you going to?”

“Mercy.”

The EMT glanced at me. “Got that?”

“Thanks. Look, I’m not shot. I need to thank that man and make sure he’s going to be okay, then tell my family I’m not hurt.” I tried to stand again. “I promised I’d—”

“Sorry, honey.” This time the EMT pushed me down. “But you’re not going anywhere right now. You passed out. We don’t know if you sustained a head injury. You have a lot of blood on you, and your ankle is cut. And that officer”—she jerked her head—“said you’re a potential eyewitness. He said you can’t leave.”

“Please. I’m not injured—”

“We’ll decide that.” The EMT signaled the officer. “She’s awake. We’ll be moving her soon.”

The officer came over and squatted beside me. He looked to be in his early forties, lean and athletic. His name tag identified him as S. Gragg. “Miss Piper Boone? I’m Lieutenant Stan Gragg. I understand you may have seen the shooter.” His voice was soft and soothing.

“You know my name.”

“Yes, ma’am. Marion Inlet is a small town. Hard not to. And”—he looked away—“I was on the department here . . . before.”

“Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t recognize you.”

“Long time ago.”

“Yes. Mr. . . . Lieutenant Gragg, I have to cover her face. It’s not right, her just lying there.” I started to take off my jacket.

The officer stopped me. “Now, Miss Boone, I know it doesn’t seem respectful to your friend, but this is a crime scene and we have to secure and preserve it until the crime-scene folks can process it.” He glanced over my shoulder. “Looks like your ride is here.”

“Really, you’re making a big fuss. All those other people—”

“Just being cautious.” He stood and stepped away.

An EMT took his place. I grabbed my heavy, oversized purse and clutched it while they arranged for my transport to the hospital.

The nearest medical center was normally a twenty-minute drive, but the ambulance cut the time in half. I was raced into a small room, placed on the examination table, questioned about my injuries, and prodded. They cleaned and bandaged my ankle. The last of the feeling of detachment left with the scrubbing of my ankle cut. That hurt.

During one of the lulls when the doctor or nurse wasn’t tending to me, I pulled a notebook and pen from my purse and started a list.

Look up the year Patriot Games was made.

I stared at that a moment. That didn’t matter. It was a movie, and it had a bombing, not a café shooting. I drew a line through it.

Call family and tell them I’m okay.

Contact Ami’s parents and offer condolences.

Take food to the house.

Order flowers.

Offer to help with funeral arrangements.

Retrieve car.

Lieutenant Gragg entered. “How are you doing?”

“A few bumps—nothing really.” I looked down at my list.

“Are you writing down what happened for me? Your statement?”

“Oh. No. Making notes on what I need to do. You know. With Ami and all.” Heat rushed to my face. “Writing things down keeps me . . . sane.”

“And Ami is . . . ?”

“Oh, sorry, Ami Churchill. The woman I was having lunch with.”

“I see. Maybe before you forget anything you could tell me what happened.”

I nodded. “Okay.” The blood had dried on my jeans, blouse, and jacket. I breathed through my mouth to not take in the metallic odor. I just want to get out of these clothes. I bit my lip at the uncharitable thought. The blood was from the man who saved my life.

Lieutenant Gragg took out a small notepad and pen, checked the time, jotted something down, then looked at me.

“So let’s start at the beginning. Your full name is Piper Boone?”

“Sandpiper Boone.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“Mother is an ornithologist, a bird-watcher. She named her children after birds.”

“So that’s why your brother, the senator, is Tern?”

“Yes. My sisters are Sparrow and Raven. I’m just happy Mother didn’t name me Albatross or Plover.” I smiled, then immediately looked down and tightened my lips. How could I make a joke when all those people were shot and Ami was still dead on the street? The police officer was taking the time to interview me when he had so much else to do, and all I could do was try to be funny. Unsuccessfully.

He quietly handed me a tissue. “Take your time.”

I took the tissue and crumpled it in my hand. “I’d agreed to meet Ami for lunch. I hadn’t seen her in years—since high school. Out of the blue, she called me up and asked to have lunch . . . I’m sorry, I’m not very organized in my thoughts right now.” The detached feeling was returning.

“And you were eating lunch?”

“Lunch. Yes. I mean no. We were finished. We were just talking and having a last glass of iced tea.”

“You were sitting facing the street?” he asked.

“No. I had my back to the street. Ami was facing me.”

Lieutenant Gragg paused and looked up from his writing. “You indicated you saw the shooter. If your back was to the street, how did you see him?”

“I . . . um . . . looked around when I smelled something . . . a homeless man. I caught a glimpse of the shooter then, but he wasn’t doing anything at that time. Later I could see his reflection in the window of the café. He’d moved behind me across the street and was watching the café. Something about him was . . . disturbing. I was about to mention him to Ami when he raised a rifle.” I started to tremble but dug my fingernails into my palms until it hurt. “Before I could say or do anything, the man at the next table grabbed me, threw me to the ground, and covered me with his body. Ami”—I took a deep breath—“Ami must have been one of the first people shot. She fell next to us as soon as the shooting started.”

“What happened next? What did the man do?”

“He saved my life.”

“Yes, but physically, what was going on around you?”

“I don’t know. I closed my eyes. I heard pop, pop, pop, screaming, the scraping of metal chairs and tables on the pavement, crashing dishes.” I took a shaky breath.

“Would you know the shooter again if you saw him?”

“I believe so, yes, if that would help you.”

A nurse entered. “Almost done? We need the room.”

“Almost.” The lieutenant gave her a quick smile.

She gave a curt nod and left.

“You said Ami was facing the street. Did she notice the man as well?”

“No. She was trying on my straw hat and was asking me if it looked good on her.”

“Piper! Thank the Lord you’re not hurt!” My brother, Tern, pushed into the room, followed by my mother, Caroline.

Mother stopped as soon as she spotted me. “Oh, Piper! You’re covered in blood! How badly are you hurt?”

“Okay, folks.” Lieutenant Gragg put his arm out to stop Tern. “We’re almost done here. She’s going to be fine. I need you to wait outside—”

“Do you know who you’re talking to?” Tern’s face was white. “That’s my little sister.”

“Yes, Senator Boone.” Lieutenant Gragg gently took Tern’s arm and turned him toward the door. “We’re taking good care of her.”

“Not as good as her family. We’re here to take her home and get the best possible care for her.”

“You will be able to, but we need to arrange for a forensic artist to meet with her as soon as possible—”

“Please, everyone, I’m fine. I have a slight graze on my ankle. That’s all.” I gripped the table. It’s Ami who needs family right now. And those other poor people. I looked down and allowed my hair to partially cover my face until I could get some modicum of control over my expression.

“Could I call you about the artist?”

“Absolutely, Miss Boone.”

A strong arm wrapped around me and pulled me to my feet. I recognized the cherry-vanilla aroma of Tern’s pipe tobacco. “Come on, little sis,” he whispered. “Everything else can wait. You need to get home.”

“Tern!” my mother said. “She can’t go out in public looking like that.”

“She’ll have to.” Tern propelled me from the room, down the hall, through a set of doors, and into a chaotic nightmare.

***

The adventure continues in Relative Silence by Carrie Stuart Parks.

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About the Author

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy, Carol, and Inspy award-winning author, an award-winning fine artist, and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity.

Catch Up With Carrie Stuart Parks:
CarrieStuartParks.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, & Facebook!

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

One print copy of
Relative Silence
US only.

Enter here.

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Book Review: Miss Julia Weathers the Storm by Ann B. Ross

Miss Julia Weathers the Storm
Miss Julia Series #19
Ann B. Ross
Viking, April 2017
ISBN 978-0-7352-2047-8
Hardcover

Miss Julia, a Southern gentlewoman of a certain age, is happily remarried to a loving and generous retired lawyer, Sam Murdoch. Her husband is certainly a contrast to her late husband Wesley Lloyd Springer, who was quick to criticize and tightfisted to boot. It wasn’t until after she buried him that a young woman turned up on her doorstep with a boy in hand—her late husband’s son, as it turned out.

But Miss Julia befriended Hazel Marie and young Lloyd, who is now part of her family. Hazel Marie  married a private detective, Mr. Pickens, who Miss Julia has never warmed to,  and now has twin toddlers.

When her husband suggests renting a beach house on an island and inviting Hazel Marie and her family along, Miss Julia balks. Not because of any dislike of Hazel Marie, but because Miss Julia really doesn’t care to travel. But her husband is so excited about the idea, she relents. Who else to invite? There’s their lawyer friend, Binkie, and her husband Coleman, a sergeant in the local sheriff’s department, and their young daughter Gracie. Then there’s the housekeeper Lillian, and her six year old great granddaughter Latisha. Rounding out the group is Miss Julia’s friend, LuAnne Conover, who suspects her husband is cheating on her, and Etta Mae Wiggins, a home health aid, who manages a mobile home park, and could use a vacation.

Latisha spends her time at the beach looking for sea shells, but on one of the days a lot more than sand dollars washes up on the shore. Hundred dollar bills, suspected to be dumped overboard by drug smugglers, have vacationers scrambling for the money. Three strangers  are overly interested in Latisha’s finds, and later show up in Abbotsville, after Miss Julia and her entourage have all returned home. Is the little girl in danger?

An entertaining addition to this long-running series. Fans of “Steel Magnolias” or Fannie Flagg’s novels will enjoy this slice of southern life, with characters that will keep you wanting more. It’s the nineteenth book in the series.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, July 2017.

Book Review: Into the Hurricane by Neil Connelly

Into the Hurricane
Neil Connelly
Arthur A. Levine Books, June 2017
ISBN: 978-0-545-85381-1
Hardcover

Take a boy who’s tormented by the ghost of his dead sister and have him encounter a sad and angry girl on a mission. Add a monster hurricane and mix well. Garnish with a group of religious fanatics, an abandoned lighthouse, a derelict floating casino and a gutsy, but slightly insane war veteran and you have all the ingredients for a really intriguing and twisty story. It’s part romance, part self-discovery and a lot of white knuckle survival—minute by minute at times.

Max (short for Maxine) was already in a world of pain after her mother abandoned her and her dad. When he met someone new in a recovery program and married her, that sense of abandonment increased. Max dealt with it by shutting down and by the time she learned her father was dying from cancer, it was too late to make most amends. She reacted by stealing her father’s ashes and heading for Shackles Island, Louisiana. She and her dad stopped there years ago during a quest to find her mom. She believes he wanted his ashes spread there, but she’s stolen them just as much to thwart her stepmother’s plan to have him buried in a new family plot.

Eli knows there’s a terrible storm bearing down on the island, but he can’t, or won’t evacuate because he believes he needs to atone for his sister’s death seven years ago when she fell from the top of the lighthouse. When he arrives there, not long before the storm hits at full strength, he’s confronted by Max. Their interaction is cut short when the Odenkirk gang shows up, slashing the tires on his motorcycle and stealing her Jeep which has her father’s ashes in it.

What follows is scary high adventure, mixing Eli’s sister’s ghost and why she torments him, with their efforts to retrieve the ashes, get off the island, save a little girl and ultimately avoid getting killed by the storm.

Readers will be treated to a fast paced, slightly supernatural tale that’s intriguing and has an abundance of action. I particularly like how both Eli and Max come to grips with what really motivated them to act as they did in the face of a horrific storm. It’s a really good story for teens liking high adventure with a dash of romance and an ending that allows them to write their own ‘what happens next’.

Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, July 2017.

Book Review: Deadly Shore by Andrew Cunningham

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Title: Deadly Shore
Author: Andrew Cunningham
Narrator: Greg Hernandez
Publication Date: January 31, 2017

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Purchase Links:

Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Deadly Shore
Andrew Cunningham
Andrew Cunningham, January 2017
Narrated by Greg Hernandez
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

It’s July 5th, and the Cape Cod roadways are clogged with tourists heading home from the holiday weekend and trying to outrun an approaching potentially catastrophic hurricane. But in the blink of an eye, their lives are thrown into chaos when terrorists bring down the bridges to the Cape. Instantly, a half million terrified people have no way to escape. And when the terrorists threaten to release anthrax on the captive population if their demands aren’t met, fear turns to all-out panic.

With time running out, Marcus Baldwin, a private investigator and former CIA operative, and Sara Cross, a disgraced ex-homicide detective, are brought together by a sole clue to the identity of the terrorists. They quickly realize that they may be the only ones with even a chance at stopping the plot before it’s too late.

With Hurricane Chad barreling up the coast on a path for a direct hit on Cape Cod, it becomes frighteningly clear to everyone trapped on what has now become an island – one way or another they are probably all going to die.

A while back, probably 15  or 20 years, there seemed to be a lot of natural disaster novels  and I snatched up every one of them I could find. They’ve been pretty scarce since then so, when I read the description of Deadly Shore, I had to have it and I mean to tell you, this is a good one. Not only do we have an approaching hurricane that keeps growing in strength, we also have a nifty terrorist crime going on. The hurricane doesn’t actually play a large physical role; it’s the looming threat of the storm that matters to the people on Cape Cod.

The hallmark of a good disaster novel is that all kinds of things happen that are beyond the pale, so to speak, definitely over the top and without much basis in reality. To truly enjoy it, you have to be willing to put aside your inclination to look for what doesn’t make sense and just go with the flow. Carrying out the dastardly plot in this book is as disbelief-suspending as it gets from the initial plan itself to the acquisition of the necessary materials to finding just the right group of henchmen to controlling all the pieces parts…well, you get the idea. Oh, and don’t forget the plethora of coincidences that not only bring together a former CIA operative and a disgraced cop but allow them to come across the perfect clues just when they need to. And I loved every minute of it 😉

As for the narration, a funny thing happened on the way to the finish. Usually, I’m very aware of the narrator’s ability to differentiate characters but, this time, I got all the way to the end before I noticed that Mr. Hernandez didn’t do such a great job with voices. And you know what? It didn’t matter. Mr. Hernandez has a really pleasing tone and is easy to listen to plus he has the ability to convey the tension and sense of doom a book like this needs. I might not  be able to quickly identify a character by the voice but Mr. Cunningham’s dialogue is written in such a manner as to let me know who’s talking when.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Deadly Shore and found myself hanging out in my driveway because I wanted to hear what would happen next. That, my friends, is a sign of an exciting audiobook, don’t you think?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2017.

About the Author
Andrew Cunningham

I was born in England, but have spent most of my life living in the U.S.—including  25 years on Cape Cod before moving to Florida. A former interpreter for the deaf and long-time independent bookseller, I’ve been a full-time freelance writer and copy editor for many years. A 4th-degree Master Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do, I finally retired from active training when my body said, “Enough already! Why are you doing this to yourself?” I’m married, with two grown children and two awesome grandsons. My wife and I spend as much time traveling as we can, and are especially fond of cruising the Caribbean.

​I have been gratified by the response to my books. When I published Eden Rising back in the spring of 2013, I had no idea what to expect. When I sold my first few copies, I was excited beyond belief that someone was willing to take a chance on it. Numerous books and thousands of copies later, I am still humbled by the emails I get from readers telling me that my books kept them up late into the night.

In October of 2014, Wisdom Spring made me an official Amazon Bestselling author, a thrill I never thought would happen. But it still comes down to being able to bring a few hours of escape to a reader. That’s what it’s all about for me.

WebsiteFacebookTwitterGoodreadsAmazon

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About the Narrator
Greg Hernandez

For more than 20 years I worked as a radio news reporter and news writer.  I spent half of my broadcasting career at ABC News Radio in the Washington, D.C., bureau.  I covered all the federal agencies as well as Congress and the White House.  I reported on a wide range of stories during my career, including financial and entertainment industry news.

I have worked as a federal government spokesman at three separate agencies for more than 20 years.  At the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, U.S. Commerce Department), I introduced podcasting in 2005 just a few weeks before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States.  The 19 podcasts I narrated and produced from August 2005 to June 2007 were downloaded more than 600,000 times during that period.  They’re still online at the following link.

http://www.noaa.gov/podcasts/podcast-archive.html

I enjoy narrating audio books because it gives me great satisfaction bringing to life books of all genres, especially mysteries and thrillers.

TwitterACX

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour:

Jun. 21st:
Kristina Stanley (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jun. 22nd:
Dab of Darkness (Review)
Buried Under Books (Review)

Jun. 23rd:
CGB Blog Tours (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
The Bookworm Lodge (Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

Jun. 24th:
A Book and A Latte (Review)

Jun. 25th:
Lomeraniel (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
Jorie Loves A Story (Review)

Jun. 26th:
Between the Coverz (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
Bound 4 Escape (Review)
Audio Audits (Review)

Jun. 27th:
Hall Ways (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)
The Book Addict’s Reviews (Review, Spotlight + Audio Excerpt)

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Book Reviews: The Cypress House by Michael Koryta, The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh, and On Borrowed Time by David Rosenfelt

The Cypress House
Michael Koryta
Little, Brown and Company, February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-316-05372-3
Hardcover

Death and corruption haunt this tale about a World War I veteran during the Depression who has a unique ability to see whether a person faces an imminent demise because of a trace of smoke in his/her eyes. Arlen Wagner in the late 30’s was a supervisor at a Civilian Conservation Corps (“CCC”) camp and was transferred to another in the Florida Keys along with several others from his detachment.  On the train he saw the sign of death in his fellow passengers and tried to warn them of impending danger, but only 19-year-old Paul Brickhill listened to him.

The two abandoned the train and found themselves at an isolated inn on the Gulf Coast, The Cypress House (a euphemism for a casket).  There they discovered a different kind of danger: a corrupt judge and a sheriff who ruled the area by sheer terror, allowing drugs to be imported from Cuba at a boat landing located near the inn.

The eerie but fascinating tale follows the efforts of the two men, along with Rebecca Cady, who runs the inn, to survive not only the massive 1935 hurricane which caused severe death and destruction, but the human forces that ruled the area.  Written with an excellent eye for describing life during the Great Depression, the novel also exhibits a deep view of human emotions, as Arlen, while wishing to depart as fast as he can, refuses to abandon Rebecca or Paul.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, April 2011.

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The Attenbury Emeralds
Jill Paton Walsh
Minotaur Books, January 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-67454-0
Hardcover

I have a confession to make:  I never read any of the Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane mysteries.  As a result, I suppose, I can approach this novel without any prejudice about the originals written by a legendary author, the redoubtable Dorothy L. Sayers.  And I can firmly state that I have been remiss and must hasten to correct my past negligence.

The author undoubtedly undertook a dream assignment:  to bring closure to the series with this concluding work, bringing Lord Peter full circle to recount his first “detective” assignment and finally bringing the ultimate mystery successfully to a conclusion. Initially, Lord Peter undertook to find the missing Attenbury Emeralds which seemed to disappear during an engagement party.  This novel, however, traces further mysteries surrounding the gems through several decades before, during and after World War II.

I have, of course, no way of knowing how authentic the tone of the book or development of the characters is compared to the originals, but I suspect they are completely compatible.  The dialogue, deliberately stilted to simulate upper crust English society, is really touching, and, of course, the interaction between Peter and Harriet poignant.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2011.

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On Borrowed Time
David Rosenfelt
Minotaur Books, February 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-59836-5
Hardcover

This is a potboiler of a novel, the author’s third standalone.  He is remembered most fondly for his Andy Carpenter series and admired for his home for sick and injured dogs.  He has now turned his creative self to a sort of sci-fi mystery in which journalist Richard Kilmer lives in both a real and a fantasy world.

Without giving the plot away, it is safe to say the story relies on the reader to suspend disbelief in some ways.  Richard is set up to believe what someone wants him to in order to prove the success of an experiment in mind manipulation.  On the other hand, it becomes quite obvious that the more he is channeled in a specific manner, the more he acts contrary to direction, somewhat opposite to what one would expect.

In any event, the novel progresses to almost a soap opera type of conclusion, detracting, in my view, from an otherwise over-all pretty high standard.  That is not to say that I have a better idea, or that the ending is not warranted, at least on the level of what went before.  That said, the book is, for the most part, good fun, and recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, May 2011.

Book Review: Sex in a Sidecar by Phyllis Smallman

Sex in a Sidecar
Phyllis Smallman
McArthur & Company, February 2010
ISBN 9781552787731
Trade Paperback

Hurricane Myrna is heading up the west coast of Florida, heading right for Jacaranda and the Sunset Bar.  Sherri Travis has been Sex in a Sidecar 2here before and knows what to expect.  She’s one of those people that wait until the last possible moment to obey the evacuation order.  She’s tending bar, serving up cocktails to all the other people determined to stick it out until the bitter end.  She’s also waiting for Clay Adams to call her and/or come rescue her sorry ass.  Which he isn’t doing.

So one of the barflies dies, presumably a victim of Hurricane Myrna.  Sherri doesn’t think so, and has fairly good reasons for her doubts.  She decides, after finally getting off the island, to find out who killed Gina.  This involves getting a job tending bar at the Bath and Tennis Club, where the rich and incredibly thin hang out, screw around, and drink themselves silly.

I have some problems with SIDECAR.  Sherri presents herself to the reader and the world in general as being an “I can take care of myself” woman.  It’s irritating to see her expect Clay to read her mind, ignore all the signals she’s sending, and do the one thing she so far has not wanted him to do: rescue her.  I can get over that, I guess; we all know women like that.  It’s realistic, in character, and still annoying.  My other problem is a plotting issue.  I can’t go into great detail without giving a major spoiler, so all I CAN say is that the presentation of the villain gives me some major grief.  I don’t like how it’s handled at all.  Other than that, SIDECAR was a decent mystery.  If you liked her first book, you’ll probably be just as happy with this second one.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, March 2010.