Book Review: A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin @Beathhigh @orionbooks @littlebrown

A Song for the Dark Times
An Inspector Rebus Novel #23
Ian Rankin
Orion Books, October 2020 (UK)
ISBN 978-1-4091-7697-8
Little, Brown and Company, October 2020 (US)
Hardcover

Retired Detective John Rebus has just moved one floor down into the ground floor flat in Edinburgh where he’s lived for a number of years.  He has COPD and stairs had become a problem. Detective Inspector Siobhan Clarke, his friend and once his partner in solving crimes, has been helping him move.

Leaving Rebus to unpack,  Siobhan returns to the Leith Police Station to rejoin the Major Incident Team currently working on the murder of a young, rich, Saudi named Salman bin Mahmoud, who was stabbed to death in what might be a hate crime.

Meantime Rebus gets a call from his daughter Samantha, now living in Tongue, 250miles to the north, with her partner Keith and daughter Carrie. Keith has gone missing and Samantha is at her wit’s end. Rebus immediately abandons his unpacking and hops in his car, heading to Tongue.  Sam and Rebus aren’t exactly close due to the fact that during her early years Rebus spent more time cracking cases and catching killers than spending time with his wife and daughter.  Now he sees this as an opportunity to get closer to his daughter and granddaughter.

On his arrival Rebus is met by Detective Sergeant Creasey who is in charge of the missing person case, and who is quick to let Rebus know he won’t tolerate interference.  When Samantha tells her father she’d had a fight with Keith before he disappeared adding that they’d recently been going through a rough patch, Rebus is prepared to do everything he can to track down Keith.  But Sam is fearful her father will only make matters worse.  And when Keith’s body is found, Samantha becomes the prime suspect.

Determined to prove his daughter’s innocence Rebus talks to a group of the locals Keith had become involved with on discovering that a POW camp was once located in the area. Keith had been interviewing several members who had been prisoners at the time and who had opted to stay around once the war was over.

When Rebus gets a call from Siobhan he asks how her murder case is proceeding and learns there might be a connection between the death of the Saudi man and Lord Strathy aka Ramsey Meiklejohn a landowner in Tongue.  Intrigued, Rebus turns his attention to the landowner paying a visit to his stately home.  Lord Strathy isn’t in residence, but when Rebus tries to question the housekeeper,  he’s quickly shown the door, leaving him to wonder if he’s found a fresh trail to follow in search of Keith’s killer.

All is not what it seems in the town of Tongue, and Rebus has his hands full as he pokes into the past to uncover the truth.

I very much enjoyed following Rebus on his latest outing…

Check this one out.… You won’t be disappointed.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2020.

Book Review: The Puppet Show by M.W. Craven @MWCravenUK @LittleBrownUK

The Puppet Show
Washington Poe #1

M.W. Craven
Constable/Little, Brown Book Group, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-4721-2745-7
Trade Paperback

Winner of the 2019 CWA Gold Dagger Award

As mentioned above this book is already a winner and after reading it I’m not at all surprised.

Set in the Lake District, someone is burning people alive and leaving the bodies amid one of the many prehistoric stone circles found in the area.  On the third charred body a name has been carved.  That name is Washington Poe.  Poe is  a member of a special group of investigators known as The National Crime Agency.  Poe is meantime on suspension due to conduct in a previous investigation, but the powers that be are anxious to stop this killer and Poe is called back in, and quickly brought up to speed.  The murders are obviously the work of a serial killer.

When a fourth body is discovered,  Poe, together with who the book jacket describes as  “the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst Tilly Bradshaw head out to where the newest victim has been found.  Poe’s method of investigating is somewhat unorthodox and often reactionary, and with Tilly’s help they uncover a number of leads that take them slowly but surely closer to identifying this killer.

Poe and Tilly work together well and this working relationship is an interesting aspect of this story.  But Poe is beginning to question whether  the clues he and Tilly find are specifically meant for him.   Is the Killer deliberately enticing Poe into a trap?  Is he somehow connected to the killings?

This is a terrific read.  Unputdownable!  The graphic descriptions of the murders might not be for everyone, but the writing is compelling, as is the twisted plot.  I devoured this book over the course of a couple of days and can hardly wait to catch up with the next in the series, Black Summer.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2020.

Book Review: Hanging Falls by Margaret Mizushima @margmizu @crookedlanebks

Hanging Falls
A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery #6
Margaret Mizushima
Crooked Lane Books, September 2020
ISBN 978-1-64385-445-8
Hardcover

While hiking in the mountains, Deputy Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo discover a man’s body floating in a lake. They soon find the body, once buried, has washed downhill due to the heavy rains plaguing the Colorado high country. While searching for clues to the man’s identity, they spot someone watching them and take him in as a suspect. Forced to let him go, as there doesn’t seem to be a connection between him and the dead man, in a matter of hours the suspect also ends up dead, hanging from a tall woodland tree. Investigation leads Mattie, Robo, and the police department to a group of religious adherents of what appears to be plural marriage.

This is the first of Mizushima’s Timber Creek mysteries that I’ve read, and it’s certainly not the last. This is the sixth book in the series, and I intend to go back for the earlier stories and catch up with Mattie’s previous adventures. Besides, I want to learn how she and Robo became partners. Then there’s her love life with veterinarian Cole Walker, and her interaction with the other LEO’s at their station. All are interesting and play important parts in the story arc.

As a plus, a great deal of the action happens in the mountains of Colorado, and we interact with wildlife, and the great outdoors.

Plus, Mattie was kidnapped, then abandoned by her mother when she was only two years old. She’s recently had a DNA test done and found some possible close relatives. What’s going to happen with that? It all adds to a well-rounded story with a good mystery, one sure to stir your blood. Besides, I’m a sucker for stories where dogs play a part. Definitely recommended reading.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, December 2020.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Six Dancing Damsels: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Review: Aftershock by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell @drjudymelinek @TJMitchellWS @HarlequinBooks

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Title: Aftershock
Series: A Dr. Jessie Teska Mystery #2
Authors: Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble  // Kobo // iBooks // Amazon
Google // Indiebound // Harlequin
Books-A-Million // Walmart // Target

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Aftershock
A Dr. Jessie Teska Mystery #2
Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell
Hanover Square Press, January 2021
ISBN 978-1-335-14729-5
Hardcover

From the publisher—

When an earthquake strikes San Francisco, forensics expert Jessie Teska faces her biggest threat yet in this explosive new mystery from the New York Times bestselling authors of Working Stiff and First Cut.

At first glance, the death appears to be an accident. The body is located on a construction site under what looks like a collapse beam. But when Dr. Jessie Teska arrives on the scene, she notices the tell-tale signs of a staged death. The victim has been murdered. A rising star in the San Francisco forensics world, Jessie is ready to unravel the case, help bring the murderer to justice, and prevent him from potentially striking again.

But when a major earthquake strikes San Francisco right at Halloween, Jessie and the rest of the city are left reeling. And even if she emerges from the rubble, there’s no guaranteeing she’ll make it out alive.

With their trademark blend of propulsive prose, deft plotting and mordant humor, this electrifying new installment in the Jessie Teska Mystery series offers the highest stakes yet.

By the time the dead body under the construction pipes has been identified, it was clear to me that “hostility” was going to be the word of the day among all parties. Dr. Jessie Teska is short-tempered with nearly everybody, she and Detective Keith Jones obviously have low opinions of each other, the construction workers are about as belligerent as they can be, the crime scene unit is snarky with Jessie and the death scene investigators…the list goes on. It all left me a bit unsettled and wondering if I would end up liking this prickly medical examiner.

The earthquake that strikes adds a level of tension not usually present in a police procedural and it certainly impedes Jessie’s investigation. It also brings her somewhat reckless behavior to the forefront. She probably would have been that way in normal circumstances but the earthquake makes things more lively.

Jessie is, at heart, a snoop, unable to let others do the investigating and that makes for a more interesting story but it also seems a little unorthodox. Still, a plethora of red herrings and misdirections entertained me till the end and I also appreciated the authors’ attention to Jessie’s personal life including her particular baggage and her relationship with her boyfriend, Anup. She’s definitely not the most likeable character I’ve come across but she’s not boring and I’ll be reading the first book as soon as I can.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2021.

About the Authors

Judy Melinek & T.J. Mitchell are the New York Times bestselling co-authors of Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, and the novel First Cut. Dr. Melinek studied at Harvard and UCLA, was a medical examiner in San Francisco for nine years, and today works as a forensic pathologist in Oakland and as CEO of PathologyExpert Inc. T.J. Mitchell, her husband, is a writer with an English degree from Harvard, and worked in the film industry before becoming a full-time stay-at-home dad to their children.

Judy: Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Goodreads

T.J.: Twitter // Goodreads

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**A copy of this book was provided by the publisher
via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**

Book Review: Six Days of Memories by Stacy Eaton @StacySEaton @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Six Days of Memories
Author: Stacy Eaton
Narrator: Rebecca Ehrenpreis
Publication Date: June 15, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural

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Six Days of Memories
Stacy Eaton
Narrated by Rebecca Ehrenpreis
Nitewolf Novels, June 2020
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Detective Natasha Foster will put her job on the line to prove her gut feeling is dead-on.

When Detective Foster responds to the scene of a crash, she finds the female passenger dead, a bag full of money in the back seat and a body in the trunk. It is only when the driver, whom she nicknames Jay, wakes up with no memory that she must go with her instincts and continue the investigation in a way that was never taught.

Jay finds himself lost, but drawn to the beautiful detective who steps above and beyond the call of duty. His need to know if he was a victim or the criminal pushes him to try and recall what happened and who he is. With the pull of a trigger, Jay’s memory will suddenly return and with it, the terrible truth.

Picking up a book labeled as romantic suspense can be a perilous adventure because you never know whether the emphasis will be on the romance or the mystery/suspense side. In this case, Six Days of Memories is decidedly heavy on the romance and pretty light on suspense.

I liked the way Ms. Eaton tells the story through the point of view of both Natasha and Jay and, from the beginning, we’re led down several paths because Jay’s amnesia causes so much questioning of circumstances and learning the truth about the two dead women and all the cash proves to be difficult. At the heart of the investigation—is Jay a criminal or a victim or, perhaps, something in between? And can Natasha trust her instincts this time?

There were a few things that I found less than enthralling including a sex/massage scene that’s a bit more graphic than I like and some noticeable weaknesses in police procedure but, more than that, Natasha’s behavior when she first meets Jay is really inappropriate and  inexplicable, behavior that brings into question whether she can do her job as expected. In fact, I think it’s probably grounds for being removed from the case in a real life situation.

As for the narration, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, Ms. Ehrenpreis has a very clear tone that’s easy to understand and there were only a few times when I personally disagreed with the way she pronounced specific words; I expect that sort of thing to happen. Beyond that, though, her narration sounded kind of stilted to me, as though she was reading the words on the page for the first time and so her emphasis on certain phrases and words just wasn’t quite the way a person would normally speak. That aside, I thought she performed well enough and I would definitely be willing to hear more books narrated by Ms. Ehrenpreis.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, January 2021.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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About the Author

Stacy Eaton is a USA Today Best Selling author and began her writing career in October of 2010. Stacy took an early retirement from law enforcement after over fifteen years of service in 2016, with her last three years in investigations and crime scene investigation to write full time.

Stacy resides in southeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, who works in law enforcement, and her teen daughter. She also has a son who is currently serving in the United States Navy, and two grandchildren.

Stacy is involved in Domestic Violence Awareness and served on the Board of Directors for her local Domestic Violence Center for three years.

Be sure to visit www.stacyeaton.com for updates and more information on her books.

Sign up for all the latest information on Stacy’s Newsletter!

Website // Twitter // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrator

Rebecca is a Full Time Vibrant and Versatile Audiobook Narrator. With her distinctive voice and multitude of character voices, Rebecca will bring stories to life. She has a professional home studio and will produce high quality audiobooks.

Her voice is caring, insightful, and honest.

Twitter

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: Among the Shadows by Bruce Robert Coffin @coffin_bruce @WitnessImpulse @HarperCollins

Among the Shadows
A Detective Byron Mystery #1
Bruce Robert Coffin
Witness Impulse, September 2016
ISBN 978-0-06-256947-9
Trade Paperback

Set in Portland, Maine, Among the Shadows is the first in a series of which, so far there are three. I’ve read them all…. Book 2, Beneath the Depths (2017), and Book 3, Beyond the Truth (2018). Update! The 4th in the series Within Plain Sight is available now!

It’s the Fall and Detective Sergeant John Byron is assigned a case concerning the murder of a retired Portland Officer. Meantime Byron is in the middle of some personal upheaval, his wife has left him, he’s drinking too much, and he’s having problems with his Superiors.

He typically throws himself into the investigation, determined to solve the murder of one of their own, and when a second ex-Portland PD Officer dies under suspicious circumstances, he realizes there is much more to these deaths than meets the eye.

Detective Diane Joyner, the first female African-American detective in the department, and his partner begin to delve into these men’s pasts, and uncover the fact that these two policemen and several others in the department were working on a case where a a substantial amount of money disappeared. In digging up the old files, Byron and Joyner wonder if more policemen are in danger.

John Byron’s character is not without flaws. He is drinking too much, ignoring calls and messages from his wife in an attempt to avoid facing the possible end of his marriage, and his bosses are watching him closely. Tensions quickly rise and Byron uncovers a truth that escalates his efforts to bring the perpetrator to justice.

It was hard to put this one down… and I quickly got my hands on Books 2 and 3 of this very enjoyable series.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2020.

Book Review: Outsider by Linda Castillo @LindaCastillo11 @MinotaurBooks

Outsider
A Kate Burkholder Mystery #12
Linda Castillo
Minotaur Books, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-250-14289-4
Hard Cover

This is the 12th Kate Burkholder mystery novel and it’s another winner.

On a snowy winter’s night, Gina Colorosa, a police officer from Columbus, is on the run, pursued by some of her fellow officers.  Gina knew they’d be coming for her and she’d made plans, but she barely escapes with her life.  After several hours of driving she turns off the highway, and soon realizes she isn’t far from Painters Mill where her one time friend Kate Burkholder is Chief of Police.  But the storm intensifies making her quest to reach Kate impossible.  She loses control of her truck and lands in a ditch.

She is rescued by an Amish widower, Adam Lengacher, out for a sleigh ride with his three children. He takes her to his farm and contacts the Police Chief.  Kate arrives and is surprised to see Gina Colorosa, fellow police officer and once her best friend. They had attended the police academy together and after graduating had both been rookie cops in Columbus. They’d parted ways and hadn’t seen each other since.

Kate is more than a little wary at Gina’s unexpected appearance. While Gina explains that some fellow officers are taking bribes, and tampering with evidence, and it is this knowledge that  has put her in danger, Kate isn’t sure Gina is telling her everything.The blizzard rages on dumping more snow and Kate, her own vehicle now stuck in a snowdrift, has no choice but to accept Adam’s hospitality and stay at his farm.

Kate calls her lover and partner, State Agent Tomasetti, and explains what has happened and asks if he can somehow make discreet inquiries and find out whether Gina is telling the truth.

Meanwhile several police officers are indeed searching for Gina.  As they expand their search and ask questions of the locals in Painters Mill they are soon on Gina’s trail.

Kate has a dilemma. She and Gina had been through a lot together, supporting each other during those early days as police rookies. But their friendship had ended on a sour note.  While seeing Gina brings back some good memories, Kate is also aware that, if Gina is in danger, her presence at the Lengacher farm is putting Adam Lengacher and his children at risk.

Kate, with Tomasetti’s help, uncovers more information about the corruption involving the police in Columbus. The storm and snow add another dimension to the tension rising as Gina’s pursuers set in motion their plan to deal with her.

You’ll have to check out this novel if you want to find out just how it ends.  It’s worth the effort.  A great read!

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, August 2020.