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.

Book Review: Shamed by Linda Castillo @LindaCastillo11 @MinotaurBooks

Shamed
A Kate Burkholder Mystery #11
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-250-14286-3
Hard Cover

Chief of Police Kate Burkholder is called to an abandoned farm where an Amish grandmother is found brutally murdered and one of her grandchildren is abducted. The search for the missing 7 year old girl becomes a high priority.

I’ve been a fan of this series for some time and enjoy visiting Kate and the people of Painters Mill. Kate grew up in this Amish community but left as a teenager. She is now the Chief of Police and has a strong knowledge and understanding of the Amish people in this small town. Time is of the essence in cases of abducted children but the murderer/kidnapper seems to have vanished into thin air and after talking to the missing child’s family, Kate gets the impression they are keeping secrets.

The investigation takes her to a nearby Amish community but the killer is watching, intent of reaping revenge. Kate has her work cut out trying to piece together the mystery that appears to have a connection to the past, a past no one is willing to reveal. After finding another victim, Kate is attacked but the killer escapes and seems determined to punish those he believes ruined his life.

Linda Castillo continues to write taut suspenseful novels with a protagonist who is compassionate and caring with an inner strength she struggles at times to maintain. Over the ten previous novels I’ve learned a lot about the Amish and Kate Burkholder’s personal history and while each novel can stand alone, I’d highly recommend you start with the first, Sworn to Silence.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, August 2019.

Review: Shamed: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

Reprinted from Kevin’s Corner
Initially posted on August 15, 2019

************

Review: Shamed: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police of Painters Mill, Ohio, is back in Shamed: A Novel of Suspense and dealing with a murder and subsequent nightmare of a missing child. The old Schattenbaum place hasn’t been lived in since the flood of 1969 damn near took everything. Before the flood, as a child, Mary Yolder was out there all the time. She still comes back to wander the abandoned property in order to cut flowers and harvest the walnuts that fall from nearly a dozen trees. These days Mary Yolder is a widow, sixty years old, and grandmother and she keeps the collecting of walnuts tradition going with her grandkids. On this day she is out there with her five year old granddaughter, Annie, and her seven year old sister, Elise.

Long before the day is done, Mary Yolder is dead by the work of an angry and vicious killer and Elise has been taken by that same person. Annie is left behind, badly traumatized, and of little help to Chief Burkholder or to her sister.

A kidnapping is always difficult to deal with, but especially in the Amish community where privacy is highly valued. The family is a respected pillar of the community, but it seems pretty clear as the initial hours pass, that they are keeping secrets. Secrets that may or may not have a role in the horrific crimes that have rocked everyone in the area.

Shamed is the latest in the long running mystery series that began many years ago with Sworn to Silence. The latest read is another solidly good read. It is also one that could be read by readers new to the series as the references to earlier cases are kept to a minimum. For those of us old hands at this great series, author Linda Castillo weaves another tale of mystery and intrigue and does so with all the usual series regulars and a few new folks one is glad to meet. Shamed is another good book in a great series and well worth your time.

For another take on the book, make sure you read Lesa Holstine’s review from July.

Shamed: A Novel of Suspense

Linda Castillo

http://www.lindacastillo.com

Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Publishing Group)

http://www.minotaurbooks.com

July 2019

Hardback (also available in audio and eBook formats)

304 Pages

$26.99

Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System. My library copy came from the Forest Green Branch.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2019

Book Review: Five Days, Five Dead by Carol Wright Crigger—and a Giveaway!

Five Days, Five Dead
A China Bohannon Novel #5
Carol Wright Crigger
Five Star Publishing, December 2018
ISBN 978-1-4328-4729-6
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Sepp Amsel, a fabulously successful gambling hall and saloonkeeper entrepreneur, is about to become the bridegroom in the most public wedding ever to take place in wild and woolly Spokane, Washington. He wants to engage China’s detective services when his fiancee’s sister is kidnapped and a substantial ransom demanded. There’s just one problem. The client thinks it’s possible he’s being bamboozled because things don’t quite add up. Only days remain for China to figure out why the sister was snatched and not the bride. But the clock is ticking. Worse, it isn’t long until murder becomes part of the equation. First a bellhop, then a tailor. Who will be next? China had better find out soon, before she, too, becomes a target for murder.

China Bohannon is a young woman blessed with determination, intelligence and the ability and desire to look out for herself quite well but, unfortunately for China, she lives in a time when those characteristics are not generally seen as positive virtues. She’d very much like to be a “real” detective in her uncle’s agency but Uncle Monk and his partner, Gratton Doyle (who is much too attractive), just can’t be convinced that this is work suitable for a woman so she snatches her chances when she can.

When Sepp Amsel walks into the Doyle & Howe Detective Agency, China is fortuitously the only one there and she’s intrigued by what he tells her, starting with the fact that he came to engage her in particular. Amsel is in the gambling and saloon business and there are only a few days to save the young woman who has been abducted for ransom. Time might be especially short as the kidnappers have taken the wrong woman.

An already suspicious situation becomes more so when the Austrian mail order bride, sister of the kidnap victim, is less than helpful and, of course, there’s a whole lot more to this case. When Uncle Monk and Gratton find out about it, they naturally try to take over but they get led astray and China soon finds herself in a world of trouble, largely because of her inexperience. With the help of a few friends and with her beloved Bedlington terrier, Nimble, by her side China manages to keep one step ahead of mortal danger while following leads through the seamy side of Spokane during a harsh winter spell. Bodies are accumulating, though, and she has a lot of clues to sift through. Eventually, the guys return and their assistance is not entirely unwelcome.

Will the plaque in the office window ever read “Doyle, Howe & Bohannon”? Only time will tell if the two men will eventually acknowledge her talents enough to take the big step but, in the meantime, China is honing her skills one case at a time. I hope she’ll attain her dream one day but I’m enjoying watching her learn how to be a proper detective and can’t wait for her next adventure. This one is going on my list of best books read in 2019.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To enter the drawing for an Advance
Reading Copy of Five Days, Five Dead
just leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on the evening of
Friday, July 26th. Open to the US and Canada.

 

Book Review: Night Rides by Carole T. Beers

Night Rides
A Pepper Kane Mystery, Book #4
Carole T. Beers
W & B Publishers, May 2019
ISBN 978-1-63554-161-8
Trade Paperback

For this adventure, former crime reporter Pepper Kane, along with her friend and business partner, Tulip Clemmons, is in Seattle. They’re riding in one of the northwest’s most important horses shows. A lot is at stake as riders compete not only for money, but prestige and reputation. The competition, we discover, is not always friendly.

On the first night, the women, accompanied by Pepper’s lover, Sonny Chief, are returning to Pepper’s on-site living quarters, when, after checking on her horse, she needs the fancy public restroom. While at first apparently deserted, she hears noises, moans, screams, thumping, scratching–all the sounds of a rather violent sexual encounter. She calls out, but there is no answer. Wondering if there was more going on than just sex, she reports what she heard to security, leaving a message when no one answers the emergency number.

Next day, a man, one of the judges in the competition is found dead⏤murdered. Pepper, not only fretting at the seeming inaction of the police, especially when they don’t seem interested in her report, but having a bit of detective type experience, soon takes a hand. When a second person is murdered⏤neither of them the most sympathetic of victims⏤what happens next has you wondering if she’d been better off to back away.

Odd things happen. Something as simple as a mug being stolen from a transgender competitor. An expensive bracelet Pepper’s daughter Chili has for sale in their store is stolen, and to wind things up, Chili is kidnapped and faced with certain death.

Well-written, snappy dialogue draws the reader forward. The action keeps one turning pages to find out what happens next. Pepper takes what seem like a few wrong turns, but always works toward an action-filled and twisty conclusion. The characters are well-fleshed out, but to me, in this particular story, the best part is when we are with the horses, riding in the ring, feeling the excitement and thrill of the show.

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

Book Review: Dead If You Don’t by Peter James

Dead If You Don’t
Roy Grace #14
Peter James
Pan McMillan, July 2018
ISBN 978-1-5098-1635-4
Hardcover

Two nightmares face Detective Superintendent Roy Grace almost immediately in the latest novel in this wonderful series of police procedurals.  First is a bomb threat in the Amex Stadium, the new home of the Albion football team in the first game in the Premier Leagues. Roy is attending with his son Bruno and notices an unattended camera in an empty seat a few rows in front of him.  Acting intuitively he grabs the instrument with merely seconds left on a timer and rushes out of the arena, tossing it as far as he can.  It doesn’t explode, but is meant to reinforce an extortion demand.

The second is the disappearance of a young lad while his father met and spoke with a client at the match.  Later, he receives a ransom demand for a quarter of a million pounds.  Grace spends the rest of the novel attempting to save the boy, while any number of murders and other mishaps arise under the purview of his High Crimes Unit.

The Roy Grace novels specialize in the meticulous attention to the investigative process in solving crimes, and Dead if You Don’t carries on this tradition.  It sometimes seems tedious, but that’s what police procedurals are all about (and give authors the chance to introduce all kinds of red herrings).  Perhaps, in this novel, this technique is carried a bit too far, with solutions offered with merely a second or two before it is too late, but we can recommend it nevertheless.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2018.