Book Review: The Sinners by Ace Atkins

The Sinners
A Quinn Colson Novel #8
Ace Atkins
Putnam, July 2018
ISBN: 978-0-399-57674-4
Hardcover

Quinn Colson finally is going to tie the knot, but events tend to interfere with the planning, much less the ceremony itself.  It’s a good thing Maggie Powers, his betrothed, is an understanding woman.  As sheriff of Tibbehah County, Mississippi, Colson is hoping for some quiet, but an invasion of a couple of gangsters, a drug war and assorted underworld internecine strife tends to interfere.

Moreover, Quinn’s best man, Boom Kimbrough, gets a job driving trucks for a shady outfit that traffics in drugs and women.  When a couple of wannabes, the Pritchard brothers, who grow the best weed, want to branch out and hijack Boom’s semi, the gangsters blame Boom as a conspirator and almost kill him, giving Quinn additional incentive to take action.

The latest in this long-running series, the novel is written in the inimitable style Ace Atkins has developed to portray the south inhabited by the characters he writes about.  The series consists of excellent crime novels, filled with colorful characters.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2018.

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Book Review: Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Loewenstein

Death of a Rainmaker
A Dust Bowl Mystery #1
Laurie Loewenstein
Kaylie Jones Books/Akashic Books, October 2018
ISBN: 978-1-61775-679-5
Hardcover

I’ll start out by saying this is a book that’s already been added to my “Best Books Read in 2019” list.

Death of a Rainmaker features dust storms so brilliantly written they’ll have you choking from the dirt and grit filling your eyes, your mouth, your lungs. Historical fact: Did you know Dust Pneumonia was/is a real malady? It killed many a child during the dust bowl years. You’ll also learn about the everyday life of the inhabitants of this small and steadily shrinking Oklahoma town. They’re people you’ll get to know as if they’re your own neighbors.

Be prepared to feel the despair of the people, families, especially the rural families, who tried everything they knew to make a living during this heartbreaking time, but who could only watch their wells dry up and their livestock die. As they watched their children die. And their hopes and dreams die, buried in dust that piled in drifts around the buildings and got in through every little crack in the boards of their dried-out houses.

So, when a stranger claiming to be a rainmaker shows up vowing to bring moisture to the parched earth, why is he murdered outside a movie house run by a blind man, in the middle of a huge duststorm?

Was it because he failed to bring rain? Was it because of a fight he got into with a young CCC worker when they’d both had too much to drink? Or was it because he eyed another man’s wife?

These are all questions Sheriff Temple Jennings is going to need to answer. Quickly, because the election is coming up and for the first time in years he has a man running against him for the job. Etha, his wife, has her own ideas about the murder, and they don’t coincide with her husband’s.

So much goes on in this novel. It’s a history of those years when poverty stalked a large portion of the population, especially in the rural areas of Oklahoma and thereabouts. It’s a grouping of character studies. It’s a mystery. And it’s wonderful.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 2019.
Author of Five Days, Five Dead, Hereafter and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry                 
Jane Harper
Flatiron Books, January 2017
ISBN 978-1-250-10560-8
Hardcover

Parts of Australia are in the depth of a persistent drought. Back to the tiny farm town of Kiewarra, comes Aaron Falk. He returns to his childhood home to the funeral of his youthful friend, Luke Hadler, Luke’s wife and their small son. It appears Luke murdered his own wife and son and then dispatched himself with a rifle bullet through the skull.

Falk is not happy to be back because he and his father were run out of town decades ago. Falk, now a member of the federal police of Australia, on short leave, expects to attend the funeral, talk with one or two family friends and then flee back to Melbourne. It doesn’t work out that way.

Like a dripping faucet, piece by casual comment, the possibility that Luke Hadler could not have done this hideous deed grows in Aaron Falk’s mind. Encouraged by the single local law officer and the discovery of interesting anomalies, Falk stays, irritates some residents, and eventually solves not just one but several crimes.

The characters are excellent, the descriptions of the community and surrounding landscape are compelling and the pace is relentless. This is a terrific very well-written novel and the concluding climax is a page-turning grabber.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, October 2018.
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: Bridge to Burn by Rachel Amphlett

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Author: Rachel Amphlett
Narrator: Alison Campbell
Length: 6 hours 39 minutes
Series: Detective Kay Hunter, Book 7
Publisher: Saxon Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Released: Feb. 8, 2019

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When a mummified body is found in a renovated building,
the gruesome discovery leads Detective Kay Hunter
and her team into a complex murder investigation.

The subsequent police inquiry exposes corruption, lies and
organised crime within the tight-knit community – and Kay’s
determination to seek justice for the young murder victim could
ruin the reputations of men who will do anything
to protect their business interests.

But as Kay closes in on the killer, tragedy strikes closer to
home in an event that will send a shockwave through her
personal life and make her question everything she values.

Can Kay keep her private and professional life under control while
she tries to unravel one of the strangest murder cases of her career?

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Buy Links

Buy on RachelAmphlett.com

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Before turning to writing, Rachel Amphlett played guitar in bands, worked as a TV and film extra, dabbled in radio as a presenter and freelance producer for the BBC, and worked in publishing as a sub-editor and editorial assistant.

She now wields a pen instead of a plectrum and writes crime fiction and spy novels, including the Dan Taylor espionage novels and the Detective Kay Hunter series.

Originally from the UK and currently based in Brisbane, Australia, Rachel cites her writing influences as Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Robert Ludlum. She’s also a huge fan of Peter James, Val McDermid, Robert Crais, Stuart MacBride, and many more.

She’s a member of International Thriller Writers and the Crime Writers Association, with the Italian foreign rights for her debut novel, White Gold sold to Fanucci Editore’s TIMECrime imprint, and the first four books in the Dan Taylor espionage series contracted to Germany’s Luzifer Verlag.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

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Early on in this series, I decided that the Detective Kay Hunter series had become one of my favorite police procedurals, enhanced even further by its British setting. This newest book is just as good with one exception having to do with the audio production as I’ll note later.

One of the attractions, for me, is the strong relationships among the characters, both professional and personal, and each new episode brings me closer to the people. That’s especially true with Kay, of course, but they all get their chance to stand out in one book or another. As for the plot, this one is a little different in that it leans more in the direction of white collar and organized crime and, while I don’t generally find those elements especially appealing, Kay and her team make them more intriguing and compelling than I would have expected, beginning with the mummified body falling out of a ceiling. How they follow various leads kept me riveted while I tried to figure things out myself.

Narrator Alison Campbell is one of my favorites but I did find the quality of this production less satisfying due to the recent switch to a new format meant for use on a cellphone. I really don’t care for this because I don’t want to listen to a book on my phone and the quality is just not as good as when I can download to my iPod and listen to it in my car. Perhaps it’s just me but I couldn’t play this through my car’s speakers and, as a result, it was a strain to hear it and Ms. Campbell’s voice frequently dropped too much.

That aside, I will most certainly continue with this series as long as Ms. Amphlett keeps writing them 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2019.

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

Giveaway

3 Winners: Free copy of Bridge to Burn Audiobook from Authors Direct

Bridge To Burn Giveaway: Three Winners!
https://js.gleam.io/e.js

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Feb. 19th:

AudioSpy

Booktalk with Eileen

The Book Junkie Reads . . .

Feb. 20th:

Dab of Darkness Book Reviews

T’s Stuff

Jorie Loves A Story

Feb. 21st:

What Emma Read Next

The Bookworm Lodge

What Is That Book About

Hall Ways Blog

Feb. 22nd:

Bound 4 Escape

2 Girls and A Book

Nerdy Dirty and Flirty

Feb. 23rd:

Next Book Review

The Book Addict’s Reviews

Dab of Darkness Audiobook Reviews

Feb. 24th:

Jazzy Book Reviews

Buried Under Books

Feb. 25th:

Lomeraniel

Turning Another Page

Book Review: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

The Girl in the Ice
A Detective Erika Foster Novel #6
Robert Bryndza
Grand Central Publishing, April 2018
ISBN: 978-1-5387-1342-6
Trade Paperback

This debut novel introduces DCI Erika Foster, and is the start of a new series.  The next novel in the series will be entitled The Night Stalker.   In The Girl in the Ice, she is brought in from her previous post in Manchester, where she led a flawed operation which resulted in the deaths of several police, including her husband.  Although she has yet to come to terms with her past, the detective superintendent believes her to still be an effective detective and places her in charge of the investigation of the murder of a prominent young woman from a well-to-do family.

The woman’s body is found frozen in ice.  Death was caused by strangulation.  Foster’s efforts are hampered by interference by the powerful father, a wealthy defense contractor, and police politics.  She stands her ground, but suffers for her principles and supposed clues, while attention is focused by higher-ups on other possible “clues,” which she feels are false.

Foster is a flawed character in need of growth.  Her efforts seem to be haphazard and insubordinate, resulting in her being removed as SIO of the case.  The novel progresses by fits and starts, and concludes with a denouement for which no basis is laid in the preceding chapters.  However, it is a good read and can be [and is] recommended, only hoping that the sequel overcomes these stated objections.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, August 2018.

Book Review: Blood Orbit by K.R. Richardson

Blood Orbit
A Gattis File Novel
K.R. Richardson
Pyr, May 2018
ISBN 978-1633884397
Trade Paperback

Blood Orbit is a fascinating look at crime fighting in the distant future, set on a terra-formed planet and peopled by segregated and mixed races whose skin color often depicts their spot in the hierarchy. Sound familiar? In fact, nobody cares much when all sixteen patrons in a jasso (night club) are massacred in a dreadful, execution style blood bath. Motive for the crime is nebulous, but the powers that be want it either solved or swept under the carpet as quickly as possible.

Eric Matheson, a member of one of the most elite families in all the universe, has redirected his life to take on the duties of a rookie ofice, a private police officer, for the corporation that runs the planet of Gattis. By some fluke, he is selected to assist the lead inspector, D.J. Dillal. Dillal has recently undergone a surgery to integrate his brain with a highly evolved computer and is still healing, which, considering the stress he’s under to solve this crime, is in doubt. It’s apt to kill him first, especially as time is running out before the corporation considers destroying a whole race of people. An underground is fighting the corporation, but it’s a puzzle whether they’re working for the people’s good, or only their own benefit.

Peopled with an amazing cast of diversified characters, and with a plot that could be ripped from today’s headlines, this is a book to draw you in and keep you reading. At 492 pages, you’ll find complete, and satisfying, world-building.

My one complaint with the book concerned not the story or the writing, both of which are excellent, but the tiny, rather faded print. With my eyes not being what they used to be, I could only read for short periods of time, although if I could’ve, I would’ve.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2018.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder, Four Furlongs and Hometown Homicide.

Book Review: Dead If You Don’t by Peter James

Dead If You Don’t
Roy Grace #14
Peter James
Pan McMillan, July 2018
ISBN 978-1-5098-1635-4
Hardcover

Two nightmares face Detective Superintendent Roy Grace almost immediately in the latest novel in this wonderful series of police procedurals.  First is a bomb threat in the Amex Stadium, the new home of the Albion football team in the first game in the Premier Leagues. Roy is attending with his son Bruno and notices an unattended camera in an empty seat a few rows in front of him.  Acting intuitively he grabs the instrument with merely seconds left on a timer and rushes out of the arena, tossing it as far as he can.  It doesn’t explode, but is meant to reinforce an extortion demand.

The second is the disappearance of a young lad while his father met and spoke with a client at the match.  Later, he receives a ransom demand for a quarter of a million pounds.  Grace spends the rest of the novel attempting to save the boy, while any number of murders and other mishaps arise under the purview of his High Crimes Unit.

The Roy Grace novels specialize in the meticulous attention to the investigative process in solving crimes, and Dead if You Don’t carries on this tradition.  It sometimes seems tedious, but that’s what police procedurals are all about (and give authors the chance to introduce all kinds of red herrings).  Perhaps, in this novel, this technique is carried a bit too far, with solutions offered with merely a second or two before it is too late, but we can recommend it nevertheless.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2018.