Book Review: A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary by Terry Shames

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary
A Samuel Craddock Mystery #8
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-63388-490-8
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

After using an online dating site for senior citizens, town favorite Loretta Singletary–maker of cinnamon rolls and arbiter of town gossip–goes missing. Chief Samuel Craddock’s old friend Loretta Singletary–a mainstay of the Jarrett Creek community–has undergone a transformation, with a new hairstyle and modern clothes. He thinks nothing of it until she disappears. Only then does he find out she has been meeting men through an online dating site for small-town participants. When a woman in the neighboring town of Bobtail turns up dead after meeting someone through the same dating site, Craddock becomes alarmed. Will Craddock be able to find Loretta before she suffers the same fate? Finding out what happened to Loretta forces him to investigate an online world he is unfamiliar with, and one which brings more than a few surprises.

It’s just another day in Jarrett Creek for Samuel Craddock when his good friend, Loretta Singletary, asks him to get involved in a church ladies’ issue, something he decidedly doesn’t want to do and he’s almost relieved when she has to leave to meet a friend. He does momentarily wonder why she seemed so skittish but police chief duties soon distract him. It isn’t until various people start realizing that they haven’t seen Loretta that he becomes not exactly alarmed but very curious.

Loretta is the essence of a settled, unremarkable woman so, when Samuel hears that she might be involved in online dating, he’s truly surprised. This is really out of character for her but what really disturbs him is that she has literally disappeared and, when he hears that a woman in a neighboring town is also missing, Samuel and his chief deputy, the energetic and opinionated Maria Trevino, begin to investigate in earnest. Following the few leads they develop soon brings them to the realization that Loretta could be in serious trouble and they don’t have much time to find her.

One thing I can always count on with a Samuel Craddock book is that, while typical police procedural action might be limited, Samuel has the mind and life experience that make him a thoughtful, intuitive investigator and he’s nearly always a step ahead of me. He notices things and he really hears what people say but, most of all, he recognizes that the unexpected is often the truth. He’s not perfect—modern social behavior sometimes baffles him and he can be reluctant to open up about himself—but he’s the kind of man I’d trust to have my back.

Samuel’s stories always focus on a particular issue and, this time, it’s the potential dangers of online dating, especially for older women…and men…who may be particularly vulnerable. Ms. Shames handles the topic quite nicely without  belaboring the point. To lighten the mood a bit, we’re also treated to the comings and goings of the townsfolk and the almost-feud over the annual goat rodeo.

This has been one of my favorite series since the very first book and I’m still just as entranced with Samuel Craddock and the denizens of Jarrett Creek. Once again, I stayed up all night and it was time well spent—who needs sleep when Terry Shames has a new book out?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2019.

Advertisements

Book Review: The Walker on the Cape by Mike Martin

************

Title: The Walker on the Cape
Series: Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 1
Author: Mike Martin
Narrator: Francis G. Kearney
Publication Date: March 18, 2019

************

The Walker on the Cape
Sgt. Windflower Mystery Series, Book 1
Mike Martin
Narrated by Francis G. Kearney
Mike Martin, March 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

A man’s body is found on the Cape in a small fishing community on the East Coast. At first, everyone thinks it’s a heart attack or stroke. But then it is discovered that he was poisoned. Who would do this and why?

Finding that out falls to Sergeant Winston Windflower of the RCMP along with his trusted sidekick, Eddie Tizzard. Along the way, they discover that there are many more secrets hidden in this small community and powerful people who want to keep it that way.

Windflower also discovers two more things: a love of living in a small community that is completely different from his upbringing in a remote Indian reserve and maybe the love of his life. He gets a taste of East Coast food and hospitality as well as a sense of how crime and corruption can linger beneath the surface or hide in the thick blanket of fog that sometimes creeps in from the nearby Atlantic Ocean.

************

A full-blooded Cree, Winston Windflower is not your everyday Mountie and he’s been posted in a small fishing village, Grand Bank, on the coast of Newfoundland, far from his reservation home in Northern Alberta. The fog and the unique personalities of the people here take some getting used to but Winston has begun to fit in quite nicely and has made some good friends including his sidekick, Constable Eddie Tizzard. Windflower believes Tizzard has earned a promotion to corporal and intends to recommend him to the higher echelons but, first, the duo has to cope with the suspicious death of Elias Martin, a man who was not well-liked.

The sergeant’s supervising inspector doesn’t believe this is anything but a natural death but Winston and Eddie think otherwise so Winston makes a few endruns around his boss, with Tizzard watching out for him, to get to the truth. They do, in fact, find clues to follow in town and elsewhere and a plethora of suspects along with hints of corruption. Sgt. Windflower soon shows why certain higher-ups hold him in high regard as he doggedly works toward a resolution.

Along the way, Windflower and a local lady, Sheila, are stepping out and enjoying the early joys of a relationship. We also are treated to some of his cultural background with customs he’s brought with him, such as smudging, and I hope to see more about that in the following books.

I mentioned in my review of the seventh book — https://cncbooksblog.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/a-trio-of-teeny-reviews-2/ — that this series has a sort of feel-good vibe to it, a wholesomeness that makes everything about it very likeable, from the setting to the characters to the actual mystery and I still feel that way. Adding to the pleasure is Mr. Kearney’s narration with his authentic-seeming (to me, at least) Canadian intonations enhanced by the local fishing village accents although he didn’t really have a wide variety of voices, especially for women. I do hope Mr. Martin will continue—quickly!—to produce audio versions of the succeeding books; I’ll be standing in line for them 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2019.

Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes

************

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.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

************

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.

************

Play an excerpt here.

************

Follow the tour here.

************

Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card
Runs May 21st-27th⎮Open internationally

Enter here.

************

Book Review: Spirit Wind by Marilyn Meredith

Spirit Wind
Tempe Crabtree Mystery Series #18
Marilyn Meredith
Marilyn Meredith, March 2019
ISBN 978-1092112086
Trade Paperback

Tempe Crabtree’s eighteenth adventure is a winner. She’s back, in all her righteous stubbornness, determined, as always, to not only solve the crime in front of her, but to protect the innocent as well. This time she’s forced to also deal with the persistent resistance of her husband, Pastor Harry Hutchinson, who expected the pair would spend a couple of weeks relaxing at a coastal resort. But he also is experienced dealing with his wife’s often abrupt changes of direction.

Tempe, a deputy sheriff in Bear Creek, California, a small Sierra Mountain community, is enticed to visit Tehachapi and stay at the Stallion Springs resort. An acquaintance, one Lorna Collins, a ghost hunter, whom Hutch was less than enthusiastic to hear of again, was searching for the ghost of a lost female prison inmate.

Tempe, not unfamiliar with the spirit world, due in part to her Native American heritage, sympathized with the aims of her friend, not for a moment suspecting there were unholy forces abroad in Tehachapi. Almost from the moment they arrive the couple is embraced by a local detective. the ghost hunter and a strange spirit manifestation.

The story moves along apace, evokes the physical area and several intriguing and disparate characters. As usual, Tempe efficiently and realistically blends her well-developed policing skills with the sensitivity of her awareness of unseen forces around us.

This is a fine, highly satisfactory and enjoyable novel of murder, manipulation, the history of the area and it blends the known and the unknown with judicious balance and at a good pace until the final explosive resolution.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 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: Flowers over the Inferno by Ilaria Tuti

Flowers over the Inferno
A Teresa Battaglia Novel #1
Ilaria Tuti
Translated from the Italian by Ekin Oklap
Soho Crime, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-64129-068-5
Hardcover

Set in a quiet village in a small community in Northern Italy, the naked body of a man has been found with his eyes gouged out. Detective Superintendent Teresa Battaglia is sent to investigate. A woman in her mid sixties, Teresa has earned a reputation as a highly experienced detective and profiler. But Teresa is beginning to feel the pressures of ailing health. She has Diabetes, and of late she has been dealing with periods of mental fatigue, and wonders if this is a portent of worse things to come.

A new assistant has been assigned to Teresa and she’s not sure whether to trust him or not. The local police try to downplay the death of one of the locals, but she is sure there is something sinister lurking beneath the surface and she intends to pursue the case.

Several children in the village have been aware of sinister happenings as well as experiencing strong feelings of being watched. More victims have the authorities wondering if a serial killer is on the loose. And when an infant is kidnapped the urgency to find the child escalates.

I found Detective Battaglia interesting and very human. Her concern for the victims is uppermost in her thoughts as she digs into the strange history of the area. And while finding the infant alive is her priority, she is also questioning her own state of mind and whether she will succeed. I thought at times the plot wandered somewhat without focus and direction. But the climax and ending worked well as the secrets of the past were revealed.

Detective Battaglia may possibly return in another tale as this is possibly the first in a proposed series.

Meanwhile…check it out….

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2019.

Book Review: Idyll Hands by Stephanie Gayle—and a Giveaway!

Idyll Hands
A Thomas Lynch Novel #3
Stephanie Gayle
Seventh Street Books,
ISBN 978-1-63388-482-3
Trade Paperback

Not to mince words, this is an excellent novel. The story travels between 1972 in Charleston, Massachusetts, and 1999 in Idyll, Connecticut. In its emotional beginning, Susan, the sixteen-year-old sister of a new policeman, Michael Finnegan, is running away from home, at least for a few days. Why, we don’t know for sure.

Twenty-six years later, in a town not far from Charleston, the new chief of police in Idyll, Connecticut, named Thomas Lynch, is confronted with allergies and the preserved bone of an unknown woman or girl, the cops in that town have named Colleen. The bone is from a body unknown and unnamed found years earlier.

And so the story begins. As it unfolds, Michael Finnegan, now an experienced detective and his boss, Chief Lynch, working together and separately, among the small force of law enforcement people, confront questions of other missing young women. And throughout the novel, the hard loss of Finnegan’s still missing sister is always present.

In carefully measured chapters, the search for the woman found in the grave in Idyll is laid out and the detectives draw ever closer to the murderer. At the same time, detective Finnegan continues to pick away at random small clues to the enduring mystery of his sister’s disappearance.

Scenes are carefully and sometimes elaborately described; the pace of the novel is intense, and readers will be treated to a small cadre of police individuals whose emotional investments in their careers are carefully laid out, along with the civilian sides of life. Readers will also be treated to an interesting look at the process of crime detection in this town where the authorities are anything but idle.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, December 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.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To enter the drawing for a print copy
of Idyll Hands by Stephanie Gayle, just leave
a
comment below. The winning name will

be drawn on Thursday night, May 9th.
This drawing is open to the US and Canada.

Book Review: Dying on Edisto by C. Hope Clark

************

Title: Dying on Edisto
Series: The Edisto Island Mysteries #5
Author: C. Hope Clark
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Genre: Mystery

************

Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

************

Dying on Edisto
The Edisto Island Mysteries #5
C. Hope Clark
Bell Bridge Books, March 2019
ISBN 978-1-61194-942-1
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

One death. Two detectives. And unexpected backup.

When a renowned—and now dead—travel blogger washes ashore on the banks of Indigo Plantation, Police Chief Callie Morgan of Edisto Beach agrees to head the investigation as a favor to the county sheriff, whose reasons are as questionable as the death itself.

When death turns to murder and a watchdog from the county makes her investigation difficult, Callie reluctantly turns to Carolina Slade and Wayne Largo, vacationing agents with the Department of Agriculture. Because poison is growing on this plantation, and someone knows how to use it well.

When an author has two really good series, it’s nice when the main characters come together in a crossover as in Dying on Edisto which combines Callie Morgan of the Edisto Island Mysteries and Carolina Slade of the Carolina Slade Mysteries. This particular pairing works quite nicely and readers new to Ms. Clark’s work will find themselves enticed to try the two series after this one.

In any crossover, balancing the two halves can be a little dicey but I felt that Ms. Clark created a story that allowed me to get a good “read” on both Callie and Carolina aka Slade, not to mention Wayne, and their very different personalities kept me reading into a very late night. These people, strangers until now, eventually behave as though they’ve known each other for years and have become a well-oiled investigating machine after their initial mutual distrust but they still have moments of real conflict. After all, local law enforcement and the feds don’t always see eye to eye, do they?

With a plethora of leads and multiple potential motives, not to mention an obnoxious detective who actually has jurisdiction, getting to the truth behind travel writer Addison Callaway’s suspicious death proves to be a road full of potholes, if you will. Half the fun of this story lies in watching all these law enforcement folks follow the clues and try to maintain a more or less professional, if somewhat adversarial, professional détente. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and, although it’s supposed to be a standalone, I hope to see this crew together again sometime.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, April 2019.

“Page-turning…[and] edge-of-your-seat action…crisp writing and
compelling storytelling. This is one you don’t want to miss!”
—Carolyn Haines, USA Today bestselling author

************

Excerpt from Dying on Edisto

Prologue

Slade

BODIES WEREN’T foreign to me, but they weren’t commonplace either.

Trying to keep my feet out of the water, I stooped over, not too much, to study the corpse floating face down about three feet away. The ears were chewed on by some kind of creature. A denim shirt clung to a pudgy back, and the torso gently rocked though no boat stirred the South Edisto River.

The last body I’d discovered in Newberry, my most recent major case, made me vomit my breakfast burrito, and if I hadn’t skipped lunch today, I’d have upchucked here, too.

We were supposed to be on vacation. Or rather, I’d been ordered by my boss to take a vacation.

“Go take basket weaving or something,” he’d said, his way of telling me to get out of his hair for a while and quit finding investigations where there were none. Sorry, but when I thought there was a case, there usually was a case. My record proved it. He sort of pissed me off.

So I’d Googled basket weaving and South Carolina Lowcountry, and made reservations for a week at Indigo Plantation. I was from this piece of the state, and revisiting would be nice. Plus, I planned to make the biggest, gaudiest basket in the world, and set the damn thing on his desk when I returned.

Patiently, Wayne had stood guard on dry land, while I searched for the right grass for a basket, along the edge of the river. But as I waded calf deep in the water, a heavy something bumped me from behind.

Imagining a gator, I screamed, teetered, and fell, making the lawman come running.

Wayne saw the body before I did. “Don’t touch it, Slade!” he’d yelled.

From sitting waist deep in brackish water, slick mud under my butt, I scrambled like a crab at surf’s edge, putting distance between me and the dead man. “It touched me first,” I yelled back.

Gently but quickly, he rolled the man over and checked for a pulse.

I’m sure my eyes rolled. Skin color and missing eyelids told us what we needed. I couldn’t stop staring though I was sure I’d regret it in my dreams.

“Stay here and guard the scene,” Wayne said, in his federal agent voice, the boyfriend in him gone. “Don’t disturb anything. And don’t let anyone else disturb anything.”

Then off he waded to shore and left me. Just like that. Before I could ask what to do if the body tried to float off.

************

About the Author

C. HOPE CLARK has a fascination with the mystery genre and is author of the Carolina Slade Mystery Series as well as the Edisto Island Mysteries, both set in her home state of South Carolina. In her previous federal life, she performed administrative investigations and married the agent she met on a bribery investigation. She enjoys nothing more than editing her books on the back porch with him, overlooking the lake, with bourbons in hand. She can be found either on the banks of Lake Murray or Edisto Beach with one or two dachshunds in her lap. Hope is also editor of the award-winning FundsforWriters.com.

Website // Facebook // Twitter // Amazon // Goodreads

************

Follow the tour here.

************

“Her beloved protagonist, Callie, continues to delight readers
as a strong, savvy, and a wee-bit-snarky police chief.”
—Julie Cantrell, NY Times and USA Today bestselling author

************

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.