Book Review: Viebury Grove by Shannon Kirk @ShannonCKirk @suspensepub

Viebury Grove
Method 15/33, Book II
Shannon Kirk
Suspense Publishing, May 2020
ISBN 978-0-578-63307-7
Trade Paperback

A taut, high-energy, brutal novel focusing on some of the worst and darkest interests of the human animal. Readers discover early on there is a small but close-knit group of wealthy men (of course) who have developed a small expensive underground sex service. They abduct, abuse and murder young women for the “pleasure” of their clientele. The novel is the story on one young woman who escapes the service and plots and plans her revenge for many years.

There are a number of fascinating characters in the story which begins startlingly with murder and then runs for several months as the well-found protagonist moves forward her long-planned case of revenge. She has targeted the people from whom she escaped as a teen girl, a dark, vicious gang of wealthy and even eminent men who kidnap, rape and torture girls and young women as a service for those who can pay.

The novel moves at a high rate of speed and energy as the well-conceived protagonist enlists an odd and fascinating group of experts to help her wreak her revenge. Tagged as a thriller, the novel is unquestionably dark and not for everyone. The writing is excellent, the plot very well executed, and the continuing success of the writer is apparent from the very first to last page.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, January 2021.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: The Guilty Die Twice by Don Hartshorn and Hell for the Holidays by Chris Grabenstein @donhartshorn @TCKPublishing @CGrabenstein

The Guilty Die Twice
Don Hartshorn
TCK Publishing, March 2020
ISBN 978-1-63161-073-8
Trade Paperback

An emotional, intense, persistent battle between attorneys who are brothers. Jake Lynch is the fictional District Attorney in Austin, Texas. His younger brother, Travis, also an attorney, struggles to make ends meet as the novel opens. Texas is a capital punishment state and part of the novel deals forcefully and thoughtfully with that issue.

The story is not, however a sociological or psychological treatise on the rights and wrongs nor on the social implications of an existing approach to capital murder. This is a bare-knuckle, stirring confrontation between opposing points of view in the persons of Travis and Jake.

The well written narrative switches between a decades old execution of a truly evil and unrepentant character and the truly awful results of the penetration of the modern drug culture into every aspect of Austin’s society. And while the well-defined characters raise several important tragic issues in the investigations and trials of some of the characters, the pace of the novel drives the narrative in relentless fashion through personal, political and even racial aspects.

Readers can ignore the sociological aspects and read the novel as a fine fascinating adventure. Or one could use the story as the basis for thoughtful debate. Either way, I recommend the novel without reservation.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Hell for the Holidays
A Christopher Miller Holiday Thriller #2
Chris Grabenstein
Carroll & Graf, November 2007
ISBN 978-0-7867-2060-6
Hardcover

Snappy dialogue and spare, economical writing characterize this thriller. So why is it 400 pages long? The answer is that this is a marvelously complicated novel with many parts playing out simultaneously in various locations around the country. The essence of the story is the smuggling into the U.S. of a stinger missile with the aim of blowing up an airliner operated by an emerging African nation. The smugglers, naturally enough, are white bigots. The hard-to-read jacket copy invokes the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh. I’d choose, instead, the young sniper who terrorized Washington D.C. environs recently.

FBI agent Christopher Miller, an engaging protagonist, chases the terrorists aided and hindered by friends and antagonists in various local and federal law enforcement agencies. We get a wide range of issues from career CIA bureaucrats to dedicated cops who’ll unhesitatingly put everything on the line to thwart the criminals. The action takes place in several high-interest locations from a championship mid-Atlantic college football game to port-side freight operations, to a major international airport.

Apart from the two principal groups of characters, there’s a host of bit players who are logical, real, and who function almost exactly as you expect they should, given the circumstances.

The development and resolution of the story depend, not only on the plotting, the moves and counter moves of police, but on small mistakes
by people on the periphery. And these seemingly insignificant details are, for me, the real strength of the novel. Whether you buy the basic
premise or not, once in the story, readers will be hard-pressed to find places where they’ll rear back in disgust and say, “give me a break!” Hell for the Holidays is a terrific read. An outstanding novel of its type.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, June 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: A Litter of Bones by JD Kirk @JDKirkBooks @ZertexMedia

A Litter of Bones
A DCI Jack Logan Novel #1
JD Kirk
Zertex Crime, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-912767-12-0
Trade Paperback

There are eight books in the series – and to date I have read four of them. I bought them for my Kindle as they were all reasonably priced ( Book 8 is due out in a few weeks) and all are around 300 pages in length.

I’ve read the first four to date….and really enjoyed them all…. They are set in Scotland, in and around Fort William and Inverness.  I’m originally from Scotland and relatively familiar with the area so that struck a chord with me. Jack Logan is a great character. He’s a Detective Chief Inspector, big, brawny and not to be trifled with.  He was married and he has a daughter… but his work has taken precedence at the cost of his marriage.

A Litter of Bones is the first book in the series.

When a young boy goes missing in the Scottish Highlands DCI Logan is sent to take the lead in the case due to the fact that he’d recently had success in apprehending and prosecuting a man who’d kidnapped and killed several children.  But when similarities to the previous missing children’s cases surface, it isn’t long before the local press begin to question whether DCI Logan had arrested and charged the wrong man.

Logan has his own misgivings but pushes his colleagues to their limit determined to find the missing boy alive. When one of his Detectives is attacked while checking out an abandoned house and forensics later find indications that the missing boy was indeed being held there…the tension quickly escalates, as hopes of finding the missing boy alive slowly diminish.

I  enjoyed getting to know DCI Logan and the local detectives and police.  The race to catch the kidnapper kept me eagerly turning pages.   I highly recommend this book and the next three in the series… JD Kirk is the pen name of Barry Hutchison who has written a number of children’s  books and as he puts it ‘is meantime enjoying murdering people’ in this mystery series.

Check them out!  You’ll be glad you did!

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, September 2020.

Book Reviews: The Budapest Escape by Bill Rapp and West of Famous by Joni M. Fisher @JoniMFisher

The Budapest Escape
A Cold War Thriller #3

Bill Rapp
Coffeetown Press, November 2019
ISBN 978-1-94189-072-1
Trade Paperback

The novel is set in the 1950s in a time of great turbulence in the world. The Soviet Union is showing cracks in its leadership. Tensions between the world powers are still evident and relationships between Allied nations are still settling down. Life and routines in the relatively young Central Intelligence Agency are still often experimental and somewhat uncertain.

The novel’s protagonist is Karl Baier, a CIA agent attempting to maneuver himself into a higher-level position, possibly Chief of Station. Meanwhile, turmoil rises in the Eastern European nations; Baier worries about his assets in Hungary and determines to rescue one of them before the revolution occurs and destroys nearly all social routine.

The potential for this novel to be a truly action and intelligence-filled narrative are all there. Unfortunately, in spite of a high degree of authenticity, and historical accuracy, the novel reads like the kind of reports government bureaucrats too often file. It is mostly devoid of emotion and the tension-filled moments are too often seen as if being observed from behind a screen. The history and circumstances of life during this period are accurate and interesting, but I would have preferred more terror, emotion, and human mistakes.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

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West of Famous  
Compass Crimes #3
Joni M. Fisher

Joni M. Fisher, February 2019
ISBN: 978-0-9972575-4-0
Trade Paperback

A handsome evocative cover introduces a riveting tale of kidnapping, identity mistakes, the internal power of a young woman and the kind of inevitable encompassing efforts of law enforcement when called on.

Martina Ramos, a bright college graduate student is immersed in the college grind of prepping for exams at Oxford. Her college friends believe her on break, her family thinks she’s studying, nose to grindstone. Certain other friends believe she’s taking a brief break from a chance encounter with a pop star. The pop star needed a favor, a stand-in to take her place for a few weeks on the party circuit in south Florida. Martina fits the role to a T.

When she awakens in the foul hold of a boat anchored somewhere off the Florida coast, the number of people who truly know where she is has been reduced to three or maybe four. And they are not Martina’s friends.

What follows is a carefully designed, increasingly tense and terror filled effort to find the kidnapped college student while keeping her true identity secret, because her family doesn’t have the kind of ransom money being demanded.

As Martina’s family, experienced law enforcement and military types, come together with a small cadre of FBI agents, plans are formed to rescue the girl before her true identity is discovered and before the looming deadline for delivery of the ransom money arrives. The plans and movements which form the bulk of this well-written novel are carefully and logically laid out. Meanwhile, readers are treated to the terror-filled existence of the young girl, contrasted with her tough-minded cautious efforts to extricate herself from the clutches of the kidnappers. The possibility of death for the unfortunate girl is well-explicated in both narratives, that of her searchers and her own interactions with her captors.

The novel is peopled with a range of interesting individuals and their interactions are both logical and well-reasoned so that readers will be eminently satisfied as the resolution looms ever closer. A thoroughly enjoyable crime novel.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Murder by Perfection by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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Title: Murder by Perfection
Series: Thorny Rose Mystery Series #3
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: May 31, 2018

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Murder by Perfection
Thorny Rose Mystery Series #3
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, May 2018
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Beware: Perfection has a dark side!

Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.

When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.

Murphy and Jessica lead hectic lives but he’s more than willing when an old Navy friend asks to meet him, hinting that he wants to talk about something shady. Just as Murphy is arriving, he hears a gunshot and finds Commander Ross Caldwell dead in his car. NCIS is quick to respond and Murphy, even though he’s a witness, is soon deep into the investigation but no one can foresee what they will begin to unearth, beginning with the disappearance of the HHS representative Ross was planning to see.

Various bits of information lead them in several directions including to what may be criminal activities in a private clinic but it’s the kidnapping of Murphy that brings the extended Faraday-Thornton family into the mix and Jessica’s brother, Tristan, along with JJ, Murphy’s twin brother, become particularly important to the entire investigation. Jessica carries out her part, somewhat haphazardly, in the ransom negotiations but it’s the brothers who play critical roles. Before all is said and done, a tangle of leads unravel more than one sinister plot with plenty of paths for the investigators—and readers—to follow.

As can be expected by anyone familiar with Lauren Carr’s work, the suspense and tension are lightened by side moments with pets like Newman, a Basset hound mix who brings new meaning to the sobriquet “couch potato” and who has learned how to operate the remote to watch his favorite tv shows. Adding to the fun is Nigel, an AI created by the techno-geek Tristan; Nigel runs the Faraday-Thornton mansion and is a whiz with research. Nigel has become my latest fantasy, not to mention the mansion and all the nifty toys the very wealthy couple enjoy. There’s also a hilarious scene involving JJ and some phone calls that had me chortling out loud 🤣

Having come to love Mike Alger’s narration in other books by Ms. Carr, I was very glad to hear him again and, while I wasn’t so thrilled with a couple of enhancements, for lack of a better word, they didn’t detract in any way from my enjoyment of the audio version of this book.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2020.

About the Author

Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

​Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram

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Follow the tour:

May 4 – Hall Ways Blog – series spotlight / giveaway
May 4 – She Just Loves Books – series spotlight / giveaway
May 4 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author – series spotlight / giveaway
May 4 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review of Kill and Run / giveaway
May 4 – Michelle L. Bloodworth – Goodreads – review of Kill and Run
May 5 – Michelle L. Bloodworth – Goodreads – review of A Fine Year for Murder
May 6 – Buried Under Books – review of Kill and Run / giveaway
May 6 – Michelle L. Bloodworth – Goodreads – review of Murder by Perfection
May 7 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 8 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
May 11 – Locks, Hooks and Books – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 11 – Jazzy Book Reviews – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 11 – Merlot Et mots –series spotlight / giveaway
May 12 – Laura’s Interests – series spotlight / giveaway
May 12 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review of Murder by Perfection / giveaway
May 13 – Bookish Quest – review of Kill and Run / giveaway
May 13 – Blooming with Books – review of Kill and Run / giveaway
May 13 – Lamon Reviews – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 14 – Buried Under Books – review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
May 15 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – series spotlight
May 19 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – series spotlight / guest post / giveaway
May 19 – Rosepoint Publishing – review of Murder by Perfection / giveaway
May 20 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
May 20 – Bookish Quest – review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
May 20 – Blooming with Books – review of A Fine Year for Murder / giveaway
May 21 – Books for Books – review of Murder by Perfection
May 21 – La libreria di Beppe – series spotlight / giveaway
May 22 – fundinmental – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 25 – Buried Under Books – review of Murder By Perfection / giveaway
May 25 – T’s Stuff – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
May 26 – Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews – series spotlight / giveaway
May 27 – Bookish Quest – review of Murder by Perfection / giveaway
May  27 – Blooming with Books – review of Murder by Perfection / giveaway
May 27 – Books for Books – series spotlight
May 28 – Bookish Quest – series spotlight / author interview/ giveaway
May 29 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – series spotlight / guest post
Jun 1 – Thoughts in Progress – series spotlight / giveaway
Jun 2 – Svetlana’s reads and views – series spotlight
Jun 2 – Kristin’s Novel Café – series spotlight
Jun 3 – Buried Under Books – series spotlight / giveaway
Jun 3 – Blooming with Books – series spotlight / giveaway
Jun 4 – Rosepoint Publishing – series spotlight / giveaway
Jun 4 –Splashes of Joy – series spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jun 5 – The avid reader – series spotlight / giveaway

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Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy
of
Lauren Carr, author of 

The Thorny Rose Mysteries.

Enter here.

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Book Review: Things in Jars by Jess Kidd @JessKiddHerself @AtriaBooks

Things In Jars
Jess Kidd
Atria Books, February 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0
Hardcover

When I first laid eyes on this novel I wasn’t going to read or review it. Not my kind of crime novel, I thought. But I read the first page. Then I read the entire thing, almost without stopping. This woman has a way with words and even more significantly, with story.

Here is London of the Victorian Age, but not the London of royalty and means. This is the London of disease, of violence and brutality, of starvation and lives too often begun and played out in darkness and misery, unseen, unremarked and unconsecrated. Here is London in myth and reality. More, here is a story that takes one to the edge of the sea and dares you to look deep, below the surface and just consider the possibilities.

Bridie Devine is an unusual anomaly in London. She’s a middle-aged single woman who supports herself as a private investigator. It’s the middle of the century and while prisons like Newgate are well-known, well-established protective police departments are not. The story chases Bridie back and forth from significant childhood among Irish contemporaries to recognition of her prodigious intellect at an early stage to considered analysis of facts and evidence.

Make no mistake, though this story deals prominently with other worldly manifestations, it is rooted in the mean and fraught world of the lower classes and with real human emotion and attitude. Here is a story that will grab you and not let go, even after the final page.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, February 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: A Dangerous Man by Robert Crais

A Dangerous Man
An Elvis Cole and Joe Pike Novel #18
Robert Crais
G.P.Putman’s Son, August 2019
ISBN 978-0-525-53568-3
Hardcover

After paying a visit to his Bank, Joe Pike is sitting in his Jeep Cherokee when he notices the young female Bank Teller who’d been helping him was being shoved into the rear of a car. Pike, once a member of the LAPD, decides to follow the car, and when it comes to a halt at a traffic light, he quickly rescues the woman, and together with her kidnappers, they wait for the police.

Isabel Roland, Izzy to her friends, has no idea why the two men tried to kidnap her. She explains to the police what happened and later when she calls Joe to thank him again she mentions that one of the men told her that he knew her secret, but Izzy thinks they must have the wrong person.

A few days later the police appear outside Joe’s house. They tell him that the two kidnappers made bail but they have been found murdered. Joe is worried about Izzy and after the police leave he goes to her house to check on her… She’s missing.

Joe calls on his friend and business partner Elvis Cole to help him find out what or who is behind these troubling events. As Elvis investigates he uncovers a decades old crime involving a whistleblower at a corporate level, and millions of dollars that went missing. But just how Izzy is connected is still a mystery.

This is a fast paced fun read, and if you haven’t been following these two friends then you can jump in here without needing to know too much about their past relationship. As a long-time fan, it’s always a treat to catch up with Elvis and Joe.

Check it out! You won’t regret it.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, September 2019.