Review: Shamed: A Novel of Suspense by Linda Castillo

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

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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

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Book Review: The Third Mrs. Durst by Ann Aguirre @MsAnnAguirre @midnightinkbook

The Third Mrs. Durst
Ann Aguirre
Midnight Ink, August 2019
ISBN 978-0-7387-6131-2
Hardcover

Marlena Altizer left home as soon as she could—she had a mother addicted to meth and younger brothers and sisters who had different fathers. The children often went hungry and Marlena was raped by one of her mother’s boyfriends when she was eleven. She scraped together enough money to buy a bus ticket to Nashville when she was sixteen and lived on the streets, where she met another teen runaway, Jenny Song. She caught the attention of a talent agent, who got her a modeling job. Her career took off, and she travelled to Europe for modeling jobs and attended classes at a Germany university.

Marlena was determined to find a rich and powerful man, and leave poverty behind. However, the man she found, Michael Durst, was rich and powerful but also cruel, controlling and sadistic. He concocted a false history for her, and arranged for her to be adopted by a Croatian couple. All her movements were watched by henchmen of her husband.  Marlena realized she was in over her head and she couldn’t see a way to escape.

While I enjoy a good tale of revenge, Marlena is not a very likable or sympathetic character. She uses her husband, who gets what’s coming to him, but she also manipulates her bodyguard in a cold and calculating way, who was one of the only people on her husband’s staff who was kind to her.   While she is loyal to her sisters and her friend Jenny, they also become entangled in the dangerous world of Michael Durst. A violent and gritty tale of deception and control.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, August 2019.

Book Review: The Murder List by Hank Phillippi Ryan @HankPRyan @ForgeReads

The Murder List
Hank Phillippi Ryan
Forge Books, August 2019
ISBN 978-1-250-19721-4
Hardcover

Launching on August 20th is Hank Phillippi Ryan’s latest novel, The Murder List.  It is exciting, well-plotted, character driven, and eminently readable.  I would have said it is a terrific beach read if CNN didn’t beat me to it, choosing it as an “Ultimate Beach Read”!  That said – and with due respect to CNN – The Murder List is so much more than that.  The story revolves around Rachel North, a law student who has scored a summer internship in the office of a well-known and powerful Assistant District Attorney (“ADA”).  One problem, though, Rachel’s husband, Jack Kirkland, a brilliant criminal defense attorney is opposed to her taking the job because he and the ADA have history and do not like each other.  However, Rachel and Jack have a plan to be partners defending people charged with murder after Rachel finishes law school and gains the qualifications she needs to be put on the murder list (that is, attorneys qualified to handle murder cases).  So, Rachel is unwilling to pass up the opportunity to see how murder cases are handled from the prosecution side.  Arriving on her first day, she meets her fellow interns and her boss, ADA Martha Gardiner.

In the first hour, Gardiner takes her to the scene of a murder where Rachel is left outside to babysit the suspect’s nephew, leaving her with the feeling that her boss doesn’t really think much of her.  But after a court appearance the next day Gardiner invites Rachel to lunch.  From then on, their working relationship grows to the point where the ADA invites Rachel to work on a murder case she is personally handling.  For Rachel, this is a great opportunity because if she and Jack follow their plan, Rachel will need to be on the murder list, as Jack already is.  And, of course, Rachel who is not even out of law school, is nowhere near qualified to get on that list.  But the experience she will gain assisting the ADA will give her budding career a big boost.

While Rachel works on the murder case, her fellow interns are working on other matters which, according to them, are not at all as interesting as her case.  But, as Rachel’s work progresses, the evidence in her murder case is mounting against someone close to her which is making her anxious and frightened.  Forbidden to talk with anyone but Gardiner about the case, Rachel is unsure what to do but, as ordered, keeps all case-related information to herself.

As mentioned above, The Murder List is an exciting read with its unexpected twists and turns.  My only complaint is that I lost sleep over it – I didn’t finish it until 3:00 a.m. but I just couldn’t put it down.  Don’t miss this!

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, August 2019.

Book Reviews: Overturned by Lamar Giles and The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure by Frances Durkin and Grace Cooke @LRGiles @Scholastic @HistoriaFrankie @JollyFishPress

Overturned
Lamar Giles
Scholastic Press, April 2017
ISBN 978-0-545-81250-4
Hardcover

I am always seeking books that will immediately intrigue ‘my’ students. Many times, I’ve been sucked into a suspense-filled, action-packed, heart-pumping mystery…surrounding a subject they could not care less about. Aptly, of course, young adults are not the intended audience—I am.

But.

Young adult readers deserve thrilling books.

Mr. Giles seems pleased to provide. And now, I may be the only person looking forward to school starting. I cannot wait to share Overturned.

The setting: the very casino where 16-year-old Nikki Tate works…as well as resides, stimulates the reader’s senses. At a blush, that life-style—for a high-school student—sounds kinda fabulous. And it was. Once.

Without her dad around to run things, the responsibility falls straight through her mother’s trembling fingers into Nikki’s own hands. She can handle it. Has to. Knowing, with her whole heart, that her father is not capable of murder doesn’t keep him off death row. Someone has to support the family—not just the three of them; the trusted and treasured employees of Cosmos matter, too.

Otherwise, she would never consider running her own after-hours, under-the-table card games. Which were not really a big deal. There’s only one human better at poker than Nikki and he’s not here right now. Gavin may still be in his teens, but his bulk makes him the perfect bouncer. Maybe he has a few butterflies when her invitations are extended to some shady characters, but Nikki knows she’s got this.

Until something even odder than the initial arrest and murder charge. New evidence, and an attorney more than pleased to represent Mr. Tate, appears. Conviction overturned and Mr. Tate is head of his casino once again.

Nikki’s delight with his return was fleeting. She once believed he was always there when she needed him. Now, his presence is so far past smothering, she seethes when they share the same space. Determined to make up for the lost time, and hoping to find the sweet, happy Babygirl he remembers; her dad dives deeper into her life.

Although Nikki doesn’t see it at first, Mr. Tate is not as angry as he is horrified and frightened by what he finds. As dad works diligently to get his daughter out of the quick-sand she doesn’t know she’s standing in, Nikki consistently (albeit unintentionally) blocks his way with a combination of teen-age infatuation and obligatory rebellion.

Overturned by Mr. Giles is absolutely every single thing I wish for when I want to wow ‘my’ students with a Book Talk.

Reviewed by jv poore, July 2019.

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The Histronauts: An Egyptian Adventure
Frances Durkin and Grace Cooke
Jolly Fish Press, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-63163-239-6
Hardcover

I don’t know if Ms. Durkin and Ms. Cooke colluded to create a tiny tome that would call to all; from the self-dubbed non-reader to the basic bookworm, but that’s exactly what this groovy graphic-novel does.

Filled with fascinating facts, in the same way a teeny car contains a multitude of clowns, this was a particularly pleasing read for me. An at-a-glance timeline from 5,000 BC through 30 BC took up only a tiny portion of a page, but was packed with information. I had no idea that Egypt was divided and reunited so many times! Nor could I have fathomed the complicated process of turning papyrus into paper.

The “novel” is in the narration. The Histronauts, a quirky crew, complete with a cat, needed an indoor activity on a rainy day. Their museum visit morphs into an adventurous Egyptian exploration. As the kids take in the sights and ask amazing questions, I am completely captivated, learning about ancient Egyptians and their way of life. And if all of that isn’t enough, there are even activities through-out. From making jewelry to flatbread or simply solving puzzles, these were engaging additions.

I believe that reluctant readers will enjoy this because of the tantalizing trivia and the graphic-novel-format seems to be more appealing for shorter attention spans. I think avid readers will be reeling from the intriguing information. I was totally into it. And truly, who knew there more than 2,000 ancient Egyptian gods? Or that music was such an imperative part of their lives?

The Histronauts also embark on a Roman adventure and I am already looking forward to joining them.

Reviewed by jv poore, December 2018.

Book Review: A Bouquet of Rue by Wendy Hornsby

A Bouquet of Rue
A Maggie MacGowen Mystery #12
Wendy Hornsby
Perseverance Press, April 2019
ISBN 978-1564746078
Trade Paperback

If you’ve never been to France, Hornsby’s A Bouquet of Rue will prove a good substitute to getting a passport. Maggie MacGowen, a documentary filmmaker, has joined her fiancé, Jean-Paul Bernard, to prepare for their wedding, as well as make films for a French TV company. Maggie has contacts and family in France, so she is not without means, and Jean-Paul is an important person as well. Within a few days of Maggie’s arrival, however, it seems a teenage girl has gone missing, and a Muslim refugee is being not only bullied at school without the girl, Ophelia’s, support, but is being blamed for her disappearance. Maggie and Jean-Paul become involved because their semi-permanent house guest, Dr. Ari Massarani, also a Muslim refugee, teaches Nabi and comes to his defense.

I found most of the book dealt with French customs, their food, their drink, their lifestyles⏤not so very different from their American counterparts. Perhaps they are even more concerned with money⏤or the lack thereof. And  both their family and their national attitudes are maybe more closed than Americans often are. The food and drink parts are a little overwhelming to one for whom food is fuel.

Was there a murder? Yes. Did I care? Not so much. More interesting was the spotlight shown on racial profiling and school bullying, apparently a world-wide problem with no resolution in sight.   But I would say this book takes a good hard look at it. Read, think, and learn.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, July 2019.
https://carolcriggercom.sitelio.me/
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Reviews: Proof of Life by Sheila Lowe and Simply Dead by Eleanor Kuhns @sheila_lowe @suspensemag @EleanorKuhns @severnhouse

Proof of Life
A Beyond the Veil Mystery #2
Sheila Lowe
Suspense Publishing, May 2019
ISBN 978-0-578-45315-6
Trade Paperback

After the accident in which her abusive husband and their infant son died, Jessica Mack had amnesia and began to experience strange noises and even voices. This enthralling thriller traces her development from confused and upset to more and deeper understanding of non-corporeal experiences. A practicing artist, Jessica Mack creates art that seems to illustrate crime scenes, but she cannot recall making the art, nor where the detailed information came from.

Gradually over the space of this excellent novel, Jessica begins to understand what may be happening to her. It is unsettling, disrupts her life at times, but instead of resisting or rejecting the forces, she instinctively sets out to learn more.

For many people whose religious or world views reject the idea of other worlds co-existing with that which we inhabit, this may become unsettling. I would urge such people to persist and read this book. Jessica Mack, an identical twin, has already experienced odd experiences with her twin sister. So she is open to learning more about the spirit world. As should we readers.

Unlike many novels that create a spirit world to fit the story, this author has created a character who is not a willing subject, but one who becomes interested in life for those beyond the veil and in a fascinating and consistent way, struggles to learn more and then to use her developing awareness to aid in a race to locate a small child who may have been kidnapped.

The author steadily raises the tension as time inexorably passes. Jessica must deal with her sister, her FBI acquaintance, other skeptics and a burgeoning love interest. The novel is very-well written, extremely carefully plotted, logical and peopled with very interesting, well-drawn characters It will capture the interest of a wide range of crime novel addicts. I strongly recommend this excellent novel.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, July 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
The Case of the Purloined Painting, The Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky.

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Simply Dead
A Will Rees Mystery #7
Eleanor Kuhns
Severn House, August 2019
ISBN 978-0-7278-8884-6
Hardcover

Winter in northern climes is difficult in the best of times. In late eighteenth century rural Maine, winter can be deadly. In a small Shaker community located in a snow bound village, a deeply disturbed murderer threatens to tear apart an already uneasy relationship with the World, as it is known among Shakers.

Will Rees is a weaver and hard-scrabble farmer with several children and a bright loving wife in his care. The weaver and farmer is an interesting motivator for the novel, husband and father of a teen girl and some even younger children. His almost insatiable curiosity propels him into conflicts at several levels when a local midwife goes missing in the snowy woods. Naturally he seeks her, exposing himself to storms and cold. He finds the midwife almost dead of exposure in the snow and rescues her while realizing the young woman is distraught and hiding something, something truly horrible.

The novel is a deliberate and accurate portrayal of early life for settlers in Maine during the period and is liberally strewn with a wide range of characters one might expect to find in an isolated settlement like this in early America. His small village has a constable who owns and runs the town bar and restaurant and thus is not reliable to protect locals against the menace of hungry wolves.

Conflicts arise for Rees and his family on all sides, affording the author ample opportunity to make deep dives into a host of personalities and situations and she takes most opportunities to do that, including brief but telling examination of the Shaker community. Consequently, the well-written, finely organized story presents several varied and useful personalities in both ordinary and highly fraught situations in a novel of manners, murder and detection. Readers will finish the novel having a concentrated experience of a particular part of America and its people before there was a United States.

Simply Dead is simply a good story with a lot of excellent characters, very well told.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, August 2019.
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 Review: Cold Bones by David Mark @davidmarkwriter @MulhollandUK

Cold Bones
A DS McAvoy Novel #8
David Mark
Mulholland Books, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-473-64319-2
Hardcover

Cold Bones is the 8th and latest novel in Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy’s series written by David Mark and set in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. It begins when McAvoy, who is dropping his daughter off at school, is approached by another parent. Knowing he’s with the police, she tells him she’s worried about an elderly lady who lives near her, but who she hasn’t seen for a few days. McAvoy offers to check on the neighbour and discovers the elderly lady, Enid Chappell, frozen to death in her bathtub.

After determining the woman has in fact been murdered, McAvoy calls it in. While he waits for the forensic team, he wanders from room to room in search of something that might give him an idea why this woman was murdered. When he spots a crossword puzzle with only one question attempted, he’s surprised that the letters spell out M C A V. He’s sure he doesn’t know the victim but can’t help wondering if there is a connection.

McAvoy’s investigation grows more complex when two elderly men, both retired trawler fishermen, are found murdered in an empty warehouse owned by Stephen Ballantine a local man businessman whose father, a trawler fisherman, was lost at sea before Stephen was born. McAvoy’s instincts tell him that the murder of Enid Chappell and the brutal killing of the two fishermen are connected. But the Area Commander, David Slattery, doesn’t agree and orders McAvoy to concentrate on the old woman’s death.

McAvoy tries to do as he’s ordered, but as his detectives dig into Enid Chappell’s background he learns she had been a well respected social worker dealing mostly with the close knit community of Trawler fishermen and their families.

Meanwhile McAvoy’s boss Superintendent Trish Pharaoh is in Iceland looking into the loss of a fishing trawler, where the ship’s owner and two crew members perished, their bodies never having been recovered. She hasn’t told McAvoy where she is or what has brought her here, but it isn’t hard to see that their paths at some point will converge.

Aector McAvoy is one of my favourite characters. He’s a big man, around 6ft.5in; a handsome Scot with red hair and a heart of gold. He’s great at his job, but he manages to get himself into dire and often scary situations. That’s because he never gives up, and tries always to do the right thing, even when it gets him into deep trouble.

While some of the violence in this book and in the series might make some readers uncomfortable, the appeal of the characters and the strong plotting make the journey entirely worthwhile. You’ll have to read for yourself how this intriguing tale of revenge and murder reaches it’s dramatic ending.

Check it out!!! You won’t regret it.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2019.