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.

Book Reviews: Fatal Score by John Baird Rogers and Tell Me Lies by Carola Lovering @Gotuit @carolatlovering @AtriaBooks

Fatal Score
Mayfield-Napolitani #1         
John Baird Rogers
Gotuit Publishing LLC, November 2018
ISBN 978-1-7322262-0-3
Trade Paperback

Here’s a novel for late-night reading. Or, depending on your belief, daytime/sunshine reading. The author has grasped both the marvelous advances and future of technology, big medicine big government and the insidious dark and dangerous aspects of human greed. Human greed, when exposed to opportunities to corrupt and steal, is almost a foregone conclusion, and in the author’s vision, fraught with hosts of bright accomplished people on the dark side as well as standing in the light.

Joe Mayfield, an accountant, happily married, does his job efficiently, and life is good. Then his wife is diagnosed with a cancer, her medical records are altered so her insurance is minimal and Mayfield’s life takes a nosedive. Why was her medical coverage designation altered? Was the national medical database hacked? Why this one woman?

Mayfield sets out to find some answers and that involves some penetration of a huge national database nicknamed YAK. He runs up against a highly intelligent security agent named Louise Napolitani. Her job is to protect the YAK against hackers. The author has set up the novel to follow these two separate but linked protagonists.

The pace of the writing is fast, persistent and occasionally furious. It is a well-written and cleanly resolved story, peopled with interesting characters. Through it all readers will learn in the most positive and comfortable way, a good deal about potential future developments in big data, data processing, government and the unchanging venality of people when confronted with opportunities to steal. I recommend this debut novel without reservation and look forward to the continuing adventures of Joe Mayfield and Weezy Napolitani.

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

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Tell Me Lies
Carola Lovering
Atria Books, June 2018
ISBN 978-1-5011-6964-9
Hardcover

A long, conflicting narrative of a young woman who goes away to college, meets and falls for a flawed fellow, and as a result suffers some emotional mountain peaks and deep valleys. Lucy Albright is the woman. Bright, good-looking, energetic, positive of outlook, she has the instincts to recognize and resist the questionable charms of Stephen DeMarco. But she doesn’t.

DeMarco is charming, handsome, confident and a little slimy. The two form a relationship, not a bond, that carries them through college experiences and into adulthood.

The novel is well-written, well-paced, lengthy, sexy and ultimately unsatisfying. Its tension and angst rise through the first half of the story and then levels off so there are fewer and fewer surprises and readers suspect an unsatisfactory and unhappy conclusion looms closer on the horizon.

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

Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper @janeharperautho @Flatironbooks

The Survivors
Jane Harper
Flatiron Books, February 2021
ISBN 978-1-250-23242-7
Hardcover

Jane Harper, an Australian writer, has been making a name for herself in the past few years. Her first book, The Dry, received much acclaim, followed by Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. They are all stand-alones, set in Australia, and if you haven’t yet checked them out they are well worth a read.

The Survivors, her fourth Novel, is set in Tasmania, in a small coastal town called Evelyn Bay. It’s a popular summer resort favoured by divers who like to explore a shipwreck in the bay. Kieran, the protagonist, grew up in Evelyn Bay and has come home with his girlfriend Mia and their baby daughter Audrey to help his mother and father move to Hobart, where his father, Brian, who is suffering from dementia, will be admitted into a care facility.

Leaving baby Audrey with her grandmother, Kieran and Mia meet up with some friends at The Surf and Turf, a favourite watering hole they’d frequented in summer’s past.

The next morning, the body of a young woman is discovered on the beach. Shock reverberates through the small community stirring up memories of the time twelve years ago when a local girl had gone missing during a violent storm that hit the shores of Evelyn Bay, resulting in the drownings of several young men.

As snippets of information, together with secrets from the past, are slowly revealed the tension mounts, until it reaches its exciting conclusion.

Tasmania is a beautiful island and Evelyn Bay is a beautiful setting for this tangled but engrossing story. Past friendships are tested and as a parent now himself Kieran learns the truth of a past he’d never before come to terms with. Savour and enjoy this heart-wrenching story. You won’t regret it!

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, March 2021.

Book Review: The Ninth Session by Deborah Serani @DeborahSerani @TouchPointPress @AnAudiobookworm

 

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Title: The Ninth Session

Author: Deborah Serani

Narrator: Deborah Serani

Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes

Publisher: TouchPoint Press

Released: Apr. 16, 2021

Genre: Suspense

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An edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that brings a unique mix of psychotherapy and sign language and Coda culture. Just when you think you have it figured out, think again!

Dr. Alicia Reese takes on a new patient. Lucas Ferro suffers with crippling anxiety, and as sessions progress, he begins to share the reasons why he’s struggling. As Ferro’s narrative becomes more menacing, Reese finds herself wedged between the cold hard frame of professional ethics and the integrity of personal truth. And, finally, when Ferro reveals his secrets, Reese learns how far she’s willing to go, willing to risk and willing to lose to do the right thing.

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Deborah Serani is an award-winning author, writing about psychological topics in many genres. She is a psychologist in practice over 30 years and a senior professor at Adelphi University. Dr. Serani has worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – where a recurring character, Judge D. Serani, was named for her.

 

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Way back in medieval times, I majored in psychology; although I never did anything with it, to this day, I’m still fascinated by the abnormalities of the mind and, in particular, implications in criminal justice. The Ninth Session, written by a woman who knows her topic very well, satisfied my interests as well as any crime fiction I’ve read. Luke is a formidable and dangerous man while his doctor, psychologist Alicia Reese, may or may not be truly prepared for what she learns about him from one session to the next and my nerves became ever more tense with every revelation. Like Alicia, the more I learned, the more I realized that he was capable of causing great harm to Alicia and those who were important in her life. “Creepy” doesn’t begin to cover it.

As narrator, Ms. Serani is clear but the various voices are not especially distinguishable. Her pace is a little slow and I could understand very well at 1.45 speed which didn’t make her sound like she’d been inhaling gas.

One thing I especially liked was the author’s method of interweaving sessions and supervision and personal life. It was interesting that the notes Alicia wrote out provided a fair amount of information not heard in the session, meaning I had to always pay attention. All in all, this was a compelling look at a psychopath’s mind and how others, including his doctor, are affected.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2021.

I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Deborah Serani. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

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Book Review and Spotlight on Motts Cold Case Mysteries by Dahlia Donovan @DahliaDonovan @ttpubs @SDSXXTours

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Title: Pierced Peony
Series: Motts Cold Case Mystery Book 2
Author: Dahlia Donovan
Publication: Tangled Tree Publishing, May 2021
ISBN 978-1-922359-57-5
Trade Paperback
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From the publisher—
 
On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.
 
As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.
 
How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?
 
Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.
 
Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?
 
Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death? 

I have a definite fondness for British village mysteries and this one set in Cornwall drew me like a magnet. Add to the charming setting a protagonist who’s autistic AND not one to fall into a romance at the first sight of a handsome cop and, well, what more could I possibly want?

A compelling mystery full of misdirections and clues would make Pierced Peony just about ideal but I can’t go quite that far. Motts is a paper crafter and didn’t know the dead woman, who had been missing for several years, so her reasons for snooping are even thinner than in most cozies. Pacing is a bit uneven and the tale occasionally drags just a little.

On the other hand, it’s really nice to have an autistic character in a series again—the one I enjoyed in the past is E.J. Copperman’s Asperger’s Mysteries featuring a character on the spectrum—and that does explain some of Motts’ driven behavior. I love her pets, a hairless cat and a turtle who are certainly not your usual fluffy, ultracute critter companions and Motts herself is appealing in unexpected ways; also, the people around her are supportive and caring enough to give her a true community.

All in all, this is a delightful story that happens to have a few flaws and much gentle humor and I think any cozy fan will be happy to discover this series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2021.

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Poisoned Primrose
Motts Cold Case Mystery Book 1
Author: Dahlia Donovan
Publication: Tangled Tree Publishing, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-922359-19-3
Trade Paperback
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“Wonderful mystery with a unique and special heroine!” – A Cozy Cup of Murder
 
Meet Motts and the quirky cast of characters in her world. Poisoned Primrose is a quintessential cosy British mystery and an all-round fun story to throw yourself into.
 
Autistic, asexual, and almost forty, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley flees London with her cat and turtle to a quaint cottage in Cornwall. She craves the peace of life in a small village. The dead body buried in her garden isn’t quite what she had in mind, though.
 
Unable to resist her curiosity, she falls directly into a mess of trouble and runs head-first into the attractive detective inspector, Teo Herceg. She tries to balance her business with the investigation, but as the killer focuses on her, staying alive becomes trickier than advanced origami.
 
Will Motts survive the onslaught of murderously bad luck?
 
Can she solve the mystery before it all spins out of control and off a cliff?
 
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Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

Find the author:

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* Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads * Newsletter

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Book Review: Eventide by R.L. Ryker

Eventide
A Chief Mattson Mystery #1
R.L. Ryker
R.L. Ryker, April 2021
ISBN 979-8723281097
Trade Paperback

A well-written, carefully plotted novel of murder and solution by confident organized small-town cops. The story line follows returning home-town boy, Brandon Mattson, who goes up the west coast from Seattle, where he became an experienced homicide investigator, back to Forks, Washington, as the new Chief of Police.

Brandon’s younger brother, also a cop, was murdered there. Now Brandon as the newly hired Chief of Police, faces old friends, lovers and the usual suspicions. He’s cleverly faced with an array of other difficulties as a former-new resident.

An old lover and a new possibility vie for his attention, as does the problem of his teen daughter who is fighting with Brandon’s ex. Although he’s been hired as the new Chief, forces in the town of Forks and among members of local law enforcement rise and fall, creating additional concerns. Layered on his personal concerns is the murder on the beach of a young woman. Mattson faces serious pressure to solve the crime quickly to avoid disrupting important civic plans.

The novel is nicely written, logical, clean and very realistic. From the very beginning the book feels small-town-comfortable with the tension from civic leaders who are watching his performance to the resistance and support of the cadre of local cops. Eventide is a competent, well-designed logical story with just the right elements of description, tension and resolution.

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

Book Review: Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner @LisaGardnerBks @DuttonBooks

Before She Disappeared
Lisa Gardner
Dutton, January 2021
ISBN 987-1-5247-4504-2
Hard Cover

Lisa Gardner is a prolific writer with an on-going mystery series with Boston Detective D.D. Warren. She’s also written several stand-alones.

Before She Disappeared is a stand-alone and well worth a read. I devoured it in a couple of days.

Frankie Elkin is a recovering alcoholic who spends her days searching for missing people, people the police have given up searching for after months of no new info or clues. Frankie believes not being associated with the police gives her an edge, allowing her to approach family and friends of the missing person, meeting them on a less pressure-filled level, to possibly unearth a snippet of new information that might lead to a breakthrough.

She’s come to Boston, to an area known as Mattapan, the largest Haitian neighbourhood, to meet the aunt and brother of Angelique Lovelie Badeau, a teenager who, after leaving school one Friday afternoon eleven months ago hasn’t been seen since.

Frankie gets a job as a bartender at Stoney’s, a local popular hangout. The job comes with a room above the pub. Eager to get started she makes her way to the apartment where Guerline Violette, Angelique’s aunt and brother lives. After initially meeting some resistance, Guerline agrees to talk to her.

Frankie doesn’t ask for money, she only asks for truthful answers to her questions. Aware she’ll get some push back, she also insists on contacting the Detective in charge of the case. Frankie makes no bones about the fact that she might not find anything, but she begins with Angelique’s High School best friends, Kyra and Marjolie. After talking to the two girls Frankie is sure they know more than they are saying.

As her investigation proceeds, with a possible sighting of Angelique… another teenage girl goes missing raising the stakes. While Frankie steadily makes progress, she is painfully aware that there are forces working against her, who are prepared to do anything to stop her.

Frankie is a strong, brave yet conflicted woman, carrying some painful baggage she’s unwilling to share, which makes it easy to get swept along with her as she fights to uncover the truth.

Like me, you’ll probably read late into the night to the exciting conclusion.

Check it out…. You’ll be glad you did.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, February 2021.