Book Review: Strong Suspicions by Amy Renshaw

Strong Suspicions
A Sophie Strong Mystery #1
Amy Renshaw
Lilac Bower Media, September 2021
ISBN 978-1-7373533-1-7
Trade Paperback

It’s 1912 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Herald daily newspaper has a single female reporter. Twenty-two year old Sophie Strong reports on garden parties, women’s groups and longs for a serious assignment.

Because she’s bright, capable and ambitious, readers of this debut mystery will assume, and rightly so, that Miss Strong will get herself in trouble pursuing suspicious events in town.

The novel carefully and accurately carries readers into Milwaukee of that time although this reader would have welcomed a few more descriptive passages. Nevertheless the book is tightly constructed and moves ahead at a steadily increasing pace to its climax.

Sophie is delighted to be assigned to report on a huge Spring costume gala at the palatial home of one of Milwaukee’s most important and wealthy families. Naturally there is a disruption. Is that disruption connected to a murder that same night?

Sophie struggles throughout the arc of the story, intersecting with a large number of authentic characters in this well-written novel, to a final well-thought-out conclusion. The story is fun, engaging and this reader looks forward to more adventures with Sophie Strong, early Twentieth century girl reporter.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 2021.
Traces, Sins of Edom, Devils Island, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: The Breaker by Nick Petrie @_NickPetrie_ @PutnamBooks

The Breaker
A Peter Ash Novel #6
Nick Petrie
G. P. Putman’s Sons, January 2021
ISBN 978-0-525-53547-8
Hard Cover

Peter Ash is back living with his girlfriend June in the Milwaukee area.  After his previous adventure in Iceland, (The Wild One)  he’s  considered a wanted man and he and June his girlfriend are trying to stay under the radar. Together with his best friend Lewis, they are heading to an outdoor market when Peter notices a suspicious man walking through the market.  When Peter glimpses a gun under the man’s jacket, he’s sure this guy is up to no good, a definite threat to the people in attendance but events don’t unfold as expected when the man corners and confronts one person.

Peter attempts to intervene, but after a brief altercation both the attacker and his potential victim escape; one on an electric bike the other on foot, leaving Peter and Lewis to wonder what really went down.  Lewis finds a pair of sunglasses and not wanting to be questioned by the Police, who were summoned to the market, they both slip away.

This is the beginning of what turns into a rather complex and bizarre plot, involving a tech thief, a paid assassin, an inventor out for revenge, and a paranoid man who is a danger not just to the local community but to the entire country.

The next day June, believing she knows the man the attacker confronted, decides to see if she can uncover his identity.  As a journalist meantime working on a book, she’s also snagged a desk at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and heads to the office on her bicycle.  When she is sideswiped by a pickup truck, and the driver seems intent on giving her a ride, she senses the encounter wasn’t accidental and deftly makes her escape.

Meanwhile as Peter and Lewis attempt to find the owner of the sunglasses they are met with polite but steady resistance at every turn, a sure sign that something is afoot.

They aren’t wrong….

Peter Ash is a character not unlike Lee Child’s Jack Reacher.  They were both in the Army, both strong silent types, both willing and more than able to jump in and help someone in trouble or in need.  And they seem to rise to the occasion whenever they meet a dangerous and deadly adversary.

Since the author’s first outing, The Drifter, I’ve been waiting and watching for each new novel.  While the plots and action are at times a little over the top, that is part and parcel of the fun and excitement each of his novels generate. Peter is always on the side of the underdog, the oppressed, and even with problems of his own, he relishes the challenges he faces along the way.

Check him out…. you won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, April 2021.