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

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

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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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.

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

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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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

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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.

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

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

Enter here.

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Book Review: Ice by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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Title: Ice
Series: A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery #1
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: April 25, 2018

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Ice
A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery #1
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, April 2018
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When Sandy Lipton and her unborn child disappeared, the court of public opinion found young Chris Matheson guilty. Decades later, the retired FBI agent returns home to discover that the cloud of suspicion cast over him and his family has never lifted. 

With the help of a team of fellow retired law enforcement officers, each a specialist in their own field of investigation, Chris Matheson starts chipping away at the ice on this cold case to uncover what had happened to Sandy and her baby and the clues are getting hot!

When Chris Matheson’s wife was killed, he was left with three young daughters to raise, a difficult thing to do under any circumstances but much worse when you’re an active FBI agent. Chris retired and moved the family home to Harper’s Ferry, WV, to live with his mom, director of the town library. A few months later, his mother, Doris, decided he needed something to do with his time, to get him out and about, and the perfect thing for him is the mystery book club that meets at the library. Reluctant at first, Chris finally succumbs to the pressure and, once again, his life takes a significant turn.

This is not your normal mystery book club, you see, but a group of retired law enforcement who, on their own, look into cold cases. Known as the Geezer Squad, they’re reluctant, at first, to accept Chris into their ranks because, well, he’s not qualified because he’s not a geezer so he doesn’t have the experience needed to ferret out the truth of long-dormant cases. That irritates Chris, of course, but they work out their differences and set out to solve some cases. One of them is the case of the pregnant Sandy Lipton who went missing years ago and Chris was initially a prime suspect.

Multiple murders, truly appealing characters, cunning investigating, and sly humor, not to mention a bunch of highly entertaining animals (including a retired law enforcement canine), make this a terrific piece of crime fiction. It’s made even better by the narration by Mike Alger who does a wonderful job with various voices and intonations. I actually listened to the second book in the series before this one — https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2019/05/28/book-review-winter-frost-by-lauren-carr/ — and my high opinion of Mr. Alger has only been solidified. Ice will be on my list of best books read in 2019 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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ICE is a strong start to a new series that will have fans of
Lauren Carr thrilled to be introduced to another set of memorable
and entertaining characters. Carr’s Geezer Squad has brought
sexy back to mature men and women, whose kickass attitude
and smarts sizzle as they melt the clues to those cold cases!”
Laura Fabiani, Library of Clean Reads

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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

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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.

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Follow the tour here.

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Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of
Lauren Carr, author of the
The Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries.

Enter here.

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“For the whodunit mystery buff who loves ever-increasing
suspense and danger, Lauren Carr’s newest series offers up
a big dose of both. Murder and mayhem seem to be Chris’s
new companions after returning home following the loss
of both his wife and his father. Juggling the parenting
responsibilities of his three daughters with his mother is not
something Chris was expecting at this point in his life,
but life isn’t something that goes as planned.”
5-Star Review at Blooming with Books

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Book Review: Below the Radar by Dana Ridenour @ridenour_dana @Wiseink

Below The Radar
The Lexie Montgomery FBI Series #3
Dana Ridenour
Wise Ink Creative Publishing, August 2019
ISBN 978-1-63489-224-7
Trade Paperback

FBI Special Agent Lexie Montgomery is still recovering mentally from her previous undercover assignment. But when she is asked to take on a new one, her therapist, Dr.Levering, doesn’t think Lexie is ready to return to action. Lexie assures her she’s fine, adding she’s the only Agent available with the experience to take on this assignment. A Dutch Police Officer, working undercover with a group of eco-extremists, has gone missing and Lexie, who has worked and lived with a similar group in a previous undercover operation, knows their mindset and methods.

While her immediate supervisor isn’t pleased with her decision, Special Agent Adam Harper is eager for her to take this on and return to the field. Special Agent Harper has also been assigned Agent Blake Bennet, mainly for the purpose of keeping an eye on Lexie.

The Agents meet and Lexie fears that two people trying to infiltrate a terrorist group will make the operation more difficult, but Agent Harper is insistent. Two days later they are on their way to the Hague. After being briefed, Blake and Lexie travel to Amsterdam where they meet up with a man who will take them to the Gathering (a meeting of protestors,) and introduce them to a few members of the eco-extremeists and persuade them they are as eager to join their group with the hope they will find out what has become of the missing Police Officer.

Blake and Lexie play their part well and are invited to join the inner group at their private camp. At this camp their phones are confiscated, but as they settle in and meet the other members of the group, there is no sign of the missing Policeman. Lexie seems to have a better handle on how to behave and the leader of the group, Holden, takes a fancy to her. Blake, however, finds himself on the outs with the possibility that he might be sent packing.

Initially the assignment to find and hopefully rescue the missing policeman had a certain urgency. And while there was a level of tension in the story once Lexie and Blake arrived at the inner camp, little progress was made. Whatever the extremists were planning came across as vague. Yes, they were up to something…but with little detail of their plan the urgency was lost.

While I understand that any type of undercover is undoubtedly a slow process, this story seemed to be going nowhere. Initially the assignment had seemed urgent to find the missing policeman, I never fully engaged in the plot and the ending came across as rather flat.

Just My Humble Opinion.
Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, August 2019.

Book Review: Death by the Bay by Patricia Skalka—and a Giveaway! @PatriciaSkalka @UWiscPress

Death by the Bay
A Dave Cubiak Door County Mystery #5
Patricia Skalka
University of Wisconsin Press, May 2019
ISBN: 978-0-299-32310-3
Hardcover

Door County Sheriff Dave Cubiak is at a hotel restaurant having lunch with old Doc Bathard, the retired coroner, when screams ring out. Apparently, The Institute for Progressive Medicine is holding its annual conference in the hotel, and a very important man has had a heart attack and fallen down dead. As if this isn’t enough, soon another scream leads Cubiak to another room, where a Hispanic cleaning woman is weeping and pointing to a photo on the wall. Since she’s speaking Spanish, Cubiak doesn’t understand what’s she’s saying, but since this room is also part of the Progressive Medicine Institute’s conference, he’s for darn sure going to find out. When the dead’s man’s autopsy provides suspicion of murder, the hunt is on as Cubiak, Bathard, and Deputy Mike Rowe dig through old history.

The story premise is a sad one–think of the days when lobotomies were performed. In this case, children with disabilities of various sorts were taken from their families and never seen again. What happened to them is only part of the mystery. Finding who is taking vengeance now is the mystery that needs solved. Cubiak depends on solid police work and a bit of intuition to finally discover the culprit.

The setting, on the shores of Lake Michigan and Green Bay, lends itself to mysterious doings. Very atmospheric throughout. The characters are well fleshed out and clear. Cubiak is a deep thinker, compassionate when called for, relentless when it comes to bringing miscreants to justice. The story is fast-paced, well-written and entirely feasible in its outcome.

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

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To enter the drawing for a hardcover
copy of Death by the Bay, just leave a
comment below. The winning name will
be drawn Friday evening, September 27th.
Open to residents of the US and Canada.

Book Review: The Body on the T by Mike Martin @mike54martin @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: The Body on the T
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 2
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: July 1, 2019

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The Body on the T
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 2
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, July 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

The Body on the T is the second book in the Windflower mystery series and it follows up on the highly acclaimed premiere, The Walker on the Cape. The story begins when a body washes up on a beach near Grand Bank, Newfoundland. There is no identification on the body and few clues to identify who the person was or where they came from. The case becomes the responsibility of Sgt. Winston Windflower of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and his trusted side-kick, Corporal Eddie Tizzard. 

But this is just the beginning. There is also a devastating accident on the highway and another suspicious death to deal with. Throw in a rogue police officer and an international drug ring operating in the waters off the coast and Windflower’s peaceful world is turned upside down. This time Windflower’s adventures take him to the scenic town of Burin where Captain Cook once patrolled the waters looking for French mercenaries. And to historic St. John’s where he faces down an armed suspect on a parking garage rooftop in the midst of a busy downtown evening.

Along the way Windflower also continues to enjoy the food and home-style hospitality of this part of the world. Cod tongues, pan seared scallops and even figgy duff become part of his diet, and his long list of favorite foods. Windflower may be a long way from his Cree home in Northern Alberta but he has found a new place to love in the fog and mist of Newfoundland.

When a body is found on the beach, the local Mounties, in the persons of Sgt. Winston Windflower and Corporal Eddie Tizzard, are soon on the job, never anticipating where their investigations will take them, especially Windflower. His work on a regional task force looking into a drug trafficking operation would seem to distance him from the local crime but, as it turns out, that might not be so and, soon enough, another body turns up.

In some ways, Windflower reminds me of another law officer, Commissario Guido Brunetti from the series by Donna Leon. Of course, Newfoundland and Venice are worlds apart but the sense of familiarity comes from the glimpses we get of each man’s personal life. With both, I feel as though the man is inviting me into his home and, with Windflower, that also means experiencing a small part of his Cree heritage. He is, indeed, a most interesting character and I’m also just as drawn to his colleague, the irrepressible Eddie Tizzard, and to his girlfriend, Sheila.

All of that is just a portion of Mr. Martin’s inventive and appealing worldbuilding with a setting in the cozy little fishing village that’s picturesque and filled with people who invite the reader in. I live in a coastal town about 2,000 miles to the south and I think I could be happy in Grand Bank if it was just a lot warmer 😉

Mr. Kearney continues to do a fine job with the narration and his various accents and vocalizations are a large part of my enjoyment of this series. I’ll be delighted when the audiobook of the third volume is ready.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

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About the Author

Mike Martin was born in Newfoundland on the East Coast of Canada and now lives and works in Ottawa, Ontario. He is a long-time freelance writer and his articles and essays have appeared in newspapers, magazines and online across Canada as well as in the United States and New Zealand. He is the author of Change the Things You Can: Dealing with Difficult People and has written a number of short stories that have published in various publications including Canadian Stories and Downhome magazine.

The Walker on the Cape was his first full fiction book and the premiere of the Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series. Other books in the series include The Body on the T, Beneath the Surface, A Twist of Fortune and A Long Ways from Home, which was shortlisted for the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year. A Tangled Web was released in 2017 and the newest book in the series is Darkest Before the Dawn which won the Bony Blithe Light Mystery Award as the best light mystery of the year.

Mike is currently Chair of the Board of Crime Writers of Canada, a national organization promoting Canadian crime and mystery writers.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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About the Narrator

Following college and many years as a local entertainer and actor I eventually entered the business world and a career of building and selling multiple successful enterprises.

In 1985 I purchased an aviation business and while building a very successful business also earned multiple movie credits as a helicopter camera ship pilot – https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0443932/?ref_=nv_sr_1 – among other services, and flew the camera helicopter for London Weekend Television’s mini series “Piece of Cake” in 1988. I have an extensive aviation background from helicopters through turboprop and jet aircraft, and a deep knowledge of all things aviation.

I have always been an insatiable reader with a love of history – the ultimate story, and anything military – especially if it flies. My evolution into narration and the joy of storytelling is the culmination of many years of a life fully lived, and is reflected in a voice of experience.

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Play an excerpt here.

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Giveaway

$20 Paypal Cash

Runs Sep. 10th-17th⎮Open internationally

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Book Review: The Body in Griffith Park by Jennifer Kincheloe @jenkincheloe @SeventhStBooks

The Body in Griffith Park
An Anna Blanc Mystery Book 3
Jennifer Kincheloe
Seventh Street  Books, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-63388-540-0
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Los Angeles, 1908. Anna Blanc is a former so-so socialite, a flailing police matron, and a killer detective.

Ex-heiress, Anna Blanc, is precariously employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, reforming delinquent children and minding lady jailbirds. What she really wants is to hunt criminals and be alone with Detective Joe Singer–both no-nos that could get her fired. On a lover’s tryst in Griffith Park, Anna and Joe discover the body of a young gambler. Anna can’t resist. She’s on the case.

With a murder to solve and her police matron duties piling up, a young girl shows up at Central Station claiming to have been raped by a man from Mars. The men at the station scoff, but Anna is willing to investigate. Meanwhile, Anna begins getting strange floral arrangements from an unknown admirer. Following the petals leads her to another crime–one close to home. Suddenly pitted against Joe, Anna must examine her loyalties and solve the crimes, even if it means losing the man she loves.

With sentences like this, it’s impossible not to love this book:

Anna arranged her face matrimonially—that is, she
tried to look grown-up, haggard, and a bit sour.

Doesn’t that bring a visual right to mind?

Anna Blanc is a young woman determined to find a place for herself in a time and society that doesn’t encourage women’s independence and she’s chosen to do so in the LAPD, decidedly a bastion of male privilege and dominance. Anna’s boss and only female colleague, Matron Clemens, is a hard taskmaster (taskmistress?) but Anna has proven her detecting skills several times now.

Meanwhile, Anna is carrying on a clandestine romance with Detective Joe Singer and, if they’re caught, Anna could be fired. Knowing that, the lovers go to extraordinary lengths to keep their liaison a secret and they may or may not be entirely successful; in fact, we know they’re not but the powers that be are still in the dark. Regardless, their efforts are inventive and frequently amusing.

On one of their trysts, while Anna and Joe are ostensibly looking for a truant, they discover a corpse. Joe immediately thinks it’s a suicide but Anna is not so sure and her detective talents kick in and, once she points out several observations to Joe, he can’t help but agree. Before all is said and done, a variety of cases will have Anna going in all directions, albeit surreptitiously, and we’re also treated to more of her family drama while Joe continues to support her as best he can in his 1908 manly way.

And who keeps sending Anna bouquets of beautiful flowers?

This is the second book I’ve read in this series—not sure how or why I’ve missed the first one—and I’m an ardent admirer of Ms. Kincheloe‘s obvious research into the early part of the 20th century. More than that, she brings Anna and her surroundings to life, making me want more. I guess I’ll have to go pick up The Secret Life of Anna Blanc while I’m waiting for book #4 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2019.

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