Book Reviews: Killer in the Band by Lauren Carr and The Root of Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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

Title: Killer in the Band
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #3
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: January 26, 2017

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

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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

Killer in the Band
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #3
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, January 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Summer of Love & Murder

Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua “J.J.” Thornton Jr., has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross hairs of a murderer.

Much of Killer in the Band revolves around family issues, specifically Joshua’s disapproval of J.J.’s decision to move in with a woman who’s much older. It’s a very unusual pairing and Joshua can’t help believing it’s inappropriate even when his son repeatedly insists he and Suellen truly love each other.

Years ago, Suellen was part of a rock band that broke up rather unexpectedly when the lead singer announced he was leaving to start a solo career. Since then, no one in the band has had any contact with him. Suellen now owns the family dairy farm, a very successful operation and J.J. is helping her run it along with Clyde Brady, the farm manager whose wife was recently murdered. Cameron has been working that case, without much success, when she gets called in to a very cold case, one that is going to become dangerous to people in the present day even after all these years.

As so often happens in a Lauren Carr mystery, the threads here begin to multiply and weave together until it all seems impossible to see the truth but that’s also what had me so engrossed I had to keep going to discover, along with Cameron and Josh, where all this was going to end…and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Oh, and we’re introduced to a new character who just might become rather important; she fits right in with all the animals, especially various horses.

Mike Alger continues to make me feel as though I’m right in the thick of things and I love his interpretation of the many characters. He’s a gem of a narrator.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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

Title: The Root of Murder
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #4
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: May 31, 2019

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

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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

The Root of Murder
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #4
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, May 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Homicide Detective Cameron Gates learned long ago that there is no such thing as a typical murder case. Each mystery is special in its own right—especially for the family of the victim.The homicide of a successful executive, husband, and father seems open and shut when the murder weapon is found in his estranged son-in-law’s possession. The circumstantial evidence is so damning that when her step-son, J.J. Thornton, agrees to act as the defendant’s public defender, he assumes his first murder case will be a loss. Only the report of a missing husband proves that this case is not as open and shut as it seems. Strap on your seat belts for a wild ride in this mystery rooted in decades of deception that sprouts into murder.

When a burning body is found in a farming couple’s field, that turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg and there is no simple resolution to be found. The accused son-in-law is a mess of a human being, drowning in substance abuse to the point that he can’t possibly help with his own defense and Cameron has a niggling feeling that something isn’t right with this case. Considering the shortcomings of most vastly overworked public defenders, criminal attorney J.J. agrees to offer his services as public defender for Derek Ellison’s case.

Then a husband is reported as missing and there are hints that there could be a connection to the murder. Cameron and her new partner, Tony, are led hither and yon following improbable paths that are as convoluted as clues can get. Fortunately, author Lauren Carr has method in what looks like madness so I was never too far behind; still, I didn’t identify the killer till near the end.

Meanwhile, the Thornton family is wrapped up in J.J.’s and Poppy’s upcoming wedding, especially the search for the dress of Poppy’s dreams. The hardcore crime fiction reader might think that’s unnecessary fluff but, trust me, it isn’t and we learn a lot more about this appealing family and their love for one another, underpinning the deep professional trust between Joshua and Cameron. They’re all much more fortunate than the other families in this story and this is a compassionate look at what can go wrong…and, ultimately, how things can be made right. (I also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Admiral, the Great Dane-Irish Wolfhound, Maine Coon Irving, and especially Charley, a rooster with attitude.)

I’m running out of ways to say how much I like Mike Alger as the narrator but the truth is he’s top-notch with various voices and interpretations of tone and emotion. He never seems to hit a weak spot 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

About the Author

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

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

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. 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

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

About the Narrator

Channel 2 Meteorologist Mike Alger joined KTVN-TV in May, 1989. Prior to that Mike had worked at KNDU-TV in Washington. Mike has provided northern Nevada “Weather Coverage You Can Count On” during the 1990 President’s Day Blizzard, the drought in the mid- 1990s, the New Year’s Flood of 1997 and the historic Snowstorms of 2005.

Mike has been married for more than 30 years and has two grown children. His hobbies include golf, music, biking, tennis, scuba diving, writing. He has written and published one novel and is working on a second. He is also a narrator of several audio books, and his work can be found on Audible.com.

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

Follow the tour here.

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

Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of
Lauren Carr, author of the
The Lovers in Crime Mysteries.

Enter here.

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

Book Reviews: Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr and Real Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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

Title: Dead on Ice
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #1
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: November 23, 2016

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

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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

Dead on Ice
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #1
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, November 2016
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Dead on Ice is the first installment of Lauren Carr’s new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates. 

Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

A homicide detective and a prosecuting attorney are almost what you might consider a dream team when it comes to law enforcement and it’s certainly true in this series but, since Cameron and Josh don’t officially work together, we also frequently get the benefit of seeing investigations go in different directions. Certainly, that’s beneficial when the body-containing freezer is found in a hoarder’s house and, not long after, a bomb goes off.

Obviously, the first question is how did the porn star end up in the freezer followed by how did that freezer end up in Joshua’s cousin’s basement? Throw in the bomb element and connections between two cold cases and the hunt for clues is on. A plethora of characters, some of whom may very well be suspects, lead Cameron and Joshua on a compellingly twisty road to find final justice for these victims and many of these characters, such as the feuding church ladies, kept me wondering.

As always, the author introduces a few animals in the protagonists’ home life and, this time, the star is a wonderful Maine Coon named Irving. I have one of these delightful felines myself and am madly in love with this loving but curmudgeonly fluffybutt whose black and white coloring is decidedly not random splotches or the tuxedo effect 😉

Mike Alger continues doing a fine job with narration and I do hope he’ll always be the voice of Lauren Carr’s delightful mysteries.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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

Title: Real Murder
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #2
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: January 10, 2017

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

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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

Real Murder
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #2
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, January 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff’s deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.

Ah, what harm could there be in listening to an old lady who keeps looking for someone to find out who killed her girl? Cameron is about to realize that there’s a whole lot behind Dolly’s querulous requests, especially after the woman is found murdered. Meanwhile, Josh is off on his own pursuit of truth after a friend from his childhood, a deputy who disappeared years ago shortly after talking to Josh, is found in his cruiser in a lake.

In a mystery that is chock full of connected threads, ominous notes from the past, evidence leading in many directions and a crazy quilt of possibilities, Cameron and Josh—and the reader—are led on a wild chase for the truths of the past and today. Every single time I thought “Aha!”, I was proven wrong and that, of course, propelled me down a mindbending path in search of answers, right along with our sleuthing duo.

This time around, we get a good look at relationships, not only between Joshua and Cam (and the fabulous Irving who is anything but a humdrum kitty) but also in other families. An interesting thread has to do with the tension between Josh’s daughter and Cameron, offset by the cheerful acceptance of a stepmother by Josh’s teenaged son, Donnie. This attention to family dynamics really enhanced the investigations and made me even more invested in the outcome.

Many of the players in this book were vividly brought to life by the narration by Mike Alger and I have to say his talents really shine here, particularly with regards to his evocation of tones and emotions. Anyone looking for their new favorite voiceover performer will be happily surprised by Mr. Alger.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

About the Author

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

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

Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. 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

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

About the Narrator

Channel 2 Meteorologist Mike Alger joined KTVN-TV in May, 1989. Prior to that Mike had worked at KNDU-TV in Washington. Mike has provided northern Nevada “Weather Coverage You Can Count On” during the 1990 President’s Day Blizzard, the drought in the mid- 1990s, the New Year’s Flood of 1997 and the historic Snowstorms of 2005.

Mike has been married for more than 30 years and has two grown children. His hobbies include golf, music, biking, tennis, scuba diving, writing. He has written and published one novel and is working on a second. He is also a narrator of several audio books, and his work can be found on Audible.com.

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

Follow the tour here.

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

Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of
Lauren Carr, author of the
The Lovers in Crime Mysteries.

Enter here.

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

Book Review: Dressing A Tiger by Maggie San Miguel

Dressing A Tiger
Maggie San Miguel
Orchard Drive Press, June 2016
ISBN: 978-0-9970360-0-8
Trade Paperback

In many ways this memoir is an amazing work. In several others, however, it is an insecure narrative of growing up in a world of adult criminals, labor organizers, thoughtful and brutal animalism and deep and sincere love from surprising sources.

Most of the turbulence or action takes place in the Twentieth Century, between 1960 and 1975. A vibrant Teamster Union, a dark wide-spread criminal enterprise often referred to as the mob or the Mafioso, due in part to its Sicilian roots. Much of the action, until the mid-nineteen-sixties, concerns the developing young maiden in Greenwich, Connecticut. Maggie’s narrative voice seems to develop from both conflicting and imperfect memories, thoughtful research among family members, and total fiction to fill in blank narrative, based on logical development.

In some areas, the narrative skips around in confusing fashion. Mostly engagingly written, indeed, sometimes truly lyrical and evocative, the writer has admitted to fabricating some things, deliberately omitted other stories, and at times laid bare in devastating language, embarrassing incidents from behind her family’s private walls.

This reviewer, a close if inadvertent observer of some elements of her story, suggests that readers read the acknowledgments at the end of the book first and possibly more than once. Regardless of the occasionally flawed writing, Dressing A Tiger is an interesting and unique look at a piece of Americana that was sad, uplifting, dangerous, turbulent and in many ways, a positive experience for all of us. It is not an entirely accurate nor complete memoir but it is fascinating and worth reading.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, February 2017.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: A Well-Respected Dead Man by Tricia Allen and Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

A Well-Respected Dead ManA Well-Respected Dead Man      
Tricia Allen
Five Star, August 2003
ISBN 0786254416
Hardcover

Former prosecutor, David Weather, member of a prominent Dallas family, is living in hard times. Suspected corruption in his family has lead to his dismissal from the prosecutor’s office. Now, long time family friend and area gambling ruler, Willie Peabody, is dead, murdered, and David is a prime suspect.

The story, replete with unusual twists and turns and a truly clever resolution, is set against a real-life Texas disaster. In 1947, a ship docked at the Texas City seaport catches fire. Inadequate fire-fighting resources fail to stop the fire and when the freighter Grandcamp explodes, the real disaster is instant and widespread. From all over Texas, help and the curious flood to the seacoast. Meanwhile, as the line goes, back at the ranch….

Author Tricia Allen, in her second novel, has fashioned a real ripsnorter, populated with incredible, bizarre and wonderful creatures, not the least of which is Weather’s family. Grudges, feuding criminals, missing bank robbery money and Texas-style politics are judiciously blended by the author to make this a clever, enthralling novel. As big as all of Texas and twice as complex, where dead thugs are almost as revered as politicians.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, July 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

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

Bad MonkeyBad Monkey
Carl Hiaasen
Alfred A. Knopf, June 2013
ISBN: 978-0-307-27259-1
Hardcover

Here we have a crime novel from an established writer who demonstrates a tendency to aim well-considered darts at various and sundry established elements of our society, such as Medicare. In most cases, the author’s aim appears to be true, but he’s using a scatter-gun approach. Sometimes less is more. The novel has a simple plot at its core. A scammer who has taken the federal government for millions of dollars through a fairly elegant illegal operation in south Florida hangs it up when the Feds inquire begin to close in. His method of avoiding arrest is bizarre to say the least.

Meanwhile a reasonably competent Key West detective named Andrew Yancy, now demoted to restaurant inspector, formerly of the Miami Police Department, is tasked by the local sheriff to dispose of a human arm, brought up by a fishing boat off the keys. Seems like a simple task, right? Unfortunately for various law enforcement agencies in South Florida and the Bahama Islands, Yancy thinks there’s something fishy about the arm. And in spite of the distraction of a plethora of pulchritudinous, sexually available women, throwing themselves at Yancy’s feet he soldiers on, determined to bring a murderer to justice and get back his detective’s shield.

Hiaasen is a wonderful writer. He generates a rolling thunder of forward movement and then chucks a nasty wrench into the works that sends the story off in a seemingly totally different direction. He is clever and inventive. Yes, of course there are crimes, including murders and there are many strange and sometimes wonderful characters, effectively used—mostly—by the author to illuminate his concerns about the social milieu which he observes in often minute detail. Reading this book put me off restaurant meals for at least a week.

Yes, there is a monkey. A pet Capuchin, ill-trained, ill-mannered  and possessed of the worst temper and too many anti-social “skills.” The novel is by turns sweet, acidulous, slow, nasty, dark, hilarious, and confusing. Sometimes the pacing and cleverness are enough to take your breath away. Bad Monkey is essential Hiaasen.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, September 2013.
Author of Red Sky, Devils Island, Hard Cheese, Reunion.

Book Review: Strings Attached by Judy Blundell

Strings AttachedStrings Attached
Judy Blundell
Scholastic Press, March 2011
ISBN 978-0-545-22126-9
Hardcover
Also available in a later trade paperback edition

This is not “Sex in the City” New York.  This New York is grittier, more glamorous, more secretive and certainly more seductive.  And much, much more dangerous.

I had almost forgotten how much I could enjoy a book devoid of vampires, werewolves, dystopia and magic.  Ms. Blundell’s Strings Attached was a fabulous reminder.  This book is raw, stark and compelling, yet; oddly simple.

Most of the story takes place in New York City in the 1950s.  Some of the events are real, albeit the timeline may be slightly adjusted.  This is a time when non-traditional families lived packed together in tiny apartments.  Young men are lying about their age so that they can enlist in the military, and all men in uniform are heroes.  Adorable Irish triplets entertain with skits, song and dance.  Young, talented girls are flocking to New York to be on Broadway, or at least dance and sing in posh nightclubs.  Women do their hair in pin-curls, they add a touch of bright red lipstick, and long-distance telephone calls are very expensive.  Trusted family friends may turn out to be very high up in the mob and absolutely nothing is free.

Kit is the 17-year old girl, who, as a triplet, has never been alone in her life.  Despite her lessons, practice and obvious talent, it is still a wildly scary decision to leave her family behind and try to make it in New York City.  While dealing with these intimidating nuances, she is struggling to define her relationship with Billy, who, after a tumultuous fight, has enlisted in the military and will be deployed very soon.  These aren’t her biggest challenges.

Billy’s father, Nate, trusted family friend, begins to do “favours” for Kit, to help her get a good start in the city.  Ever the skeptic, Kit doubts his sincerity.  As she questions his motives, she begins to unravel a mystery involving the least likely of people.  Unbeknownst to her, Billy, too is learning more than he ever wanted to know about his father and his father’s relations.  As Kit and Billy, separately, begin to uncover a truth thought hidden forever, danger surrounds them each.  Will the truth set them free?  Will either of them even live to tell this tale?  The answers will surprise you.  Some questions may never be answered, and sometimes, the hero has to die.

I hope you enjoy reading about Kit’s journey as much as I did.

Reviewed by jv poore, January 2013.

Book Review: Blast from the Past by Lauren Carr

Blast from the PastBlast from the Past
A Mac Faraday Mystery
Lauren Carr
Acorn Book Services, January 2013
ISBN 9780985726775
Trade Paperback

From the author—

In this fourth mystery on Deep Creek Lake; Mac Faraday finds himself up to his eyeballs with mobsters and federal agents. After an attempted hit ends badly with two of his men dead, mobster Tommy Cruze arrives in Spencer, Maryland, to personally supervise the execution of the witness responsible for putting him behind bars—Archie Monday! Mac Faraday believes he has his work cut out for him in protecting his lady love from one of the most dangerous leaders in organized crime; but when bodies start dropping in his lakeshore resort town, things may be hotter than even he can handle.

Mac Faraday may be a multi-millionaire but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten his background in law enforcement. The big city ex-cop in him can’t help but come out when things go wrong in his adopted town—and they’re going wrong in spades this time. Not only is a mobster in town to “take care” of Archie; bodies are dropping like flies and they may not all be because of Tommy Cruze. Fact is, there seems to be a plethora of unpleasant folks in town and it’s a good thing the local police chief, David, has no problem accepting help from his half-brother. It’s also a good thing that Mac’s money can buy extra protection for Archie but she may not need it so much considering how deft she is with her pink handgun.

The wonderful Gnarly has his own duties this time, not only taking down bad guys in his very effective canine fashion. He also takes on the task of making a little girl feel safe and loved, not such an easy thing to do when Sari has been more traumatized than most of us will ever experience.

Reading a mystery by Lauren Carr is always a treat and Blast from the Past is certainly no exception. Are there some flaws? Of course there are but these are easily overshadowed by a breakneck pace, one death after another, a superabundance of government agents, a little romance here and there and a good deal of Gnarly time. I can never get too much of his pooch and his human buddies.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, March 2013.

Book Review: What It Was by George Pelecanos

What It Was
George Pelecanos
Reagan Arthur Books, January 2012
ISBN 9780316209540
Trade Paperback

It’s the summer of 1972 and the place is Washington, D.C. It’s the time of 8-tracks, big afro hair, high heels on men’s shoes, incense, soul and funk, bell bottom pants and rayon shirts. It’s the era of muscle cars and drugs and money and prostitutes. Four years after the D.C. riots and shortly before Watergate. It’s what it was and the story of a man starting out in the private investigator business, and a bad man wanting to make a name for himself.

Derek Strange, ex-police officer and now private eye, is hired by a woman wanting to retrieve a lost ring. Robert Lee Jones, aka ‘Red Fury’ has killed a local drug dealer and is about to go on a murder spree to become a man with an infamous legacy. Strange’s former partner, veteran Frank Vaughn has caught the case and is soon on the trail of Red. Enter hitmen from the mob also looking for the killer of the dealer. As Red and his associates plan to make their getaway forces from all sides are closing in.

If you’re a Pelecanos fan you know his stories are full of culture, music, food, drugs, guns, and straight, no nonsense dialogue and action. What It Was recalls a time when America had experienced changes and was heading for more. The good guys aren’t all the time good and the bad guys are a product of their place and time. It’s a quick read but another fine product from the mind of Pelecanos.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, December 2011.
Author of Night Shadows and Beta.