Book Review: 15 Minutes by Larissa Reinhart @LarissaReinhart @AnAudiobookworm

Title: 15 Minutes
Series: Maizie Albright Star Detective, Book 1
Author: Larissa Reinhart
Narrator: Joan Dukore
Publication Date: May 28, 2020
Genres: Mystery, Cozy

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Synopsis

She played a detective on TV, but now that her life depends on it, can Maizie Albright play a detective for real?

Three Teen Choice Awards, one Emmy nomination, and several Maxim covers later, Maizie Albright was an ex-teen star, stuck in reality show hell, and standing before a California judge. She has one chance for a new life: return home to Black Pine, Georgia, and get a job that has nothing to do with show business. So why not become a private detective – the person she played during the happiest days of her life?

Maybe because…

First: She’s got 10 days to get and keep the job.

Second: She has to convince the only private investigator in town to hire her.

Third: She lost the client’s wife on the first day. (And the woman may be dead…)

Fourth: She just might be falling in love with her new boss. And she just might have lost him his business.

But what has she got to lose, other than imprisonment, her dignity, and possibly, her life?

For fans of romantic comedy mysteries like Meg Cabot’s Size 12 Is Not Fat and Stephanie Bond’s Body Movers, The Wall Street Journal best-selling author Larissa Reinhart brings her listeners the first in the Maizie Albright Star Detective series, Hot Mystery Reviews’ “Top 10 Mysteries for Book Clubs”.

”Child star and hilarious hot mess Maizie Albright trades Hollywood for the backwoods of Georgia and pure delight ensues. Maizie’s my new favorite escape from reality.” (Gretchen Archer, USA Today best-selling author of the Davis Way Crime Caper series)

Start the Wall Street Journal best-selling series and download 15 Minutes today! 

“Sassy, sexy, and fun, 15 Minutes is hours of enjoyment.” (Phoebe Fox, author of the Breakup Doctor series)

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My Review

There are times when I need a few good laughs with a book and I had more than a few with Maizie and everybody else in 15 Minutes. The premise of a young actress, a former teen reality star, being effectively sentenced to get a new life is unique and the author made the most of it, sending Maizie off to her dad’s town, Black Pine, Georgia, where the donuts are hot and the private investigator she’s about to meet is equally hot.

A celebrity doesn’t naturally fit well in a small town but Maizie is determined and what better way to fulfill her obligation than to become a real-life private eye? After all, she played one on TV so it can’t be all that hard. Needless to say, mayhem ensues shortly after Wyatt Nash, her new and reluctant employer, assigns her to follow a client’s wife and Maizie loses her but she didn’t realize she’d also have to deal with her momager who wants her back where she belongs in LA. Even that irritation is topped, though, when bodies begin to turn up. The missing woman’s husband is one of the victims so maybe Maizie can redeem herself by finding the woman. Piece of cake! Or donut 🙂

This story is full of charm and humor as well as a good puzzle and narrator Joan Dukore brings it all to life. Truthfully, her voice grated on me a little, sounding kind of screechy, but I think the problem was in my own hearing and Ms. Dukore certainly did a terrific job with her pacing and comedic sense. I’m looking forward to more of Maizie’s adventures.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2020.

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Purchase Links:
Audible // Amazon

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The Characters of 15 MINUTES
from an Audio Perspective

By Larissa Reinhart

In the past when my other books became audiobooks, my publisher took care of all the details. Basically, I signed a contract and months later I was given a copy of the audiobook. 15 MINUTES was my first experience working with an actress and producer, and I loved the collaboration. My narrator, Joan Dukore, has been a dream. She’s professional, prompt, and engaging. Fabulously funny, Joan understands comedic timing. I love her version of Maizie Albright and I love the way the book (books, actually, since she just finished the second) sound.

I prepared a small character profile with the audition script that accompanied short excerpts from the three scenes I chose. This was all Joan had to go on, so you can see below the challenge presented in her audition. Just the basics for the main characters. And of course, she nailed these voices.

●     Maizie Albright: a twenty-five-year-old actress born in Georgia but raised in LA (heroine/first person). She’s insecure but optimistic. A buxom redhead like she walked out of a noir detective novel, but with the personality of rom-com heroine.

●     Wyatt Nash: a thirty-two-year-old private investigator from Georgia. Looks like Dwayne Johnson. A little rough, capable and confident, and has a soft spot (and growing attraction) for Maizie that he hides. Mainly because he doesn’t want to admit it to himself.

●     Lamar: an ex-police officer and Nash’s friend. He owns the building and donut shop below Nash’s detective office. Lamar’s an older African-American man from Georgia. Confident and curious. He likes Maizie immediately.

●     Vicki Albright:  Maizie’s stage-monster mother. She’s a beauty queen originally from Black Pine, Georgia (but wouldn’t have an accent). Cool, confident, and ruthless. Her phrases are crisp and often sarcastic.

●     Jolene Sweeney:  Nash’s ex-wife from Georgia. A businesswoman. Detests Maizie. Mean like a hellcat, thirtyish.

●     Giulio Belloni: an Italian man in his early thirties. He’s Maizie’s ex-costar and her sort-of ex-fiance. He’s very dramatic and self-obsessed but still charming and friends with Maizie. He used to star in Italian soaps.

●     Lucky is her childhood dirt bike she drives after her car is repossessed.

●     Most of the characters are from Georgia. The books are set in Black Pine, a mountain and lake resort town. However, the characters shouldn’t have strong or twangy Southern accents.

Nothing I hate more than Southerns portrayed with a strong or twangy accent.

Before Joan started the actual recording, I gave her a more detailed character profile for the main characters in the entire series. I wrote Joan a note that said, “As an actress, I know you need to develop the character as you hear them, too, but I hope this is helpful. If you want more backstory notes, let me know.”

Here you can see a little more of backstories and appearances but not much. I wanted her spin on the characters. The profiles were just to create boundaries so she’d be free to range within.

Maizie — 25, lived in LA for most of her life. She should sound young and bubbly and a little insecure. No discernable accent. I imagine a young Christina Hendricks. The series is a long character arc for her, so she grows more confident in each book.

Nash — 32, from Georgia. Big guy with a deep voice, a little gruff. Kind of like Dwayne Johnson. No heavy Southern accent, just speaks slower, likes he’s slowly simmering beneath the surface. Usually with impatience. Sometimes with heat. He doesn’t suffer fools.

Lamar — approaching 60. He sounds like Morgan Freeman in my head. 😉 He’s the voice of wisdom.

Vicki Albright — around 50 (antagonist). Maizie’s stage mother grown into tv/film producer. She speaks in crisp, short sentences. I always hear Jessica Walter’s characters, Lucille Bluth on “Arrested Development” or Meryl Streep’s in The Devil Wears Prada. Even though she’s an ex-beauty queen from Georgia, she abandoned her accent to adapt to LA and the industry.

She’s Machiavellian, but I think she does care about Maizie, even though it appears Maizie’s become the means to her own end. The entire series has a mother-daughter theme.

Boomer Spayberry — 50ish. He’s Maizie’s father and a hunting apparel tycoon. He’s very “old boy.” Big guy with a big beard. Deep voice, but a little like Sam Elliot or Tommy Lee Jones. He’s self-made, practical, and stubborn. A little narrow-minded. Remarried. He has no patience with Maizie’s old lifestyle and harbors a lot of resentment toward Vicki, his ex-wife who left him when she took Maizie to LA for her career.

Remi Spayberry — 6, Maizie’s half-sister. A country girl, very independent, smart, and speaks her own mind. She reminds me of Tatum O’Neil’s character, Addie Loggins, in Paper Moon.

Guilio Belloni — He’s Italian, so his name is pronounced Julio with a hard J sound. I take some of his affectations from Bruno Tonioli of “Dancing With the Stars” even though Guilio is a lot younger. He speaks fast. When he’s in trouble or trying to get away with something, his accent is more pronounced on purpose. His first career was in Italian soap operas, so he’s like an Italian Telenovela star.

Tiffany and Rhonda at LA HAIR — both are young, around Maizie’s age, and working class.

Rhonda — is African American with a soft Southern accent, like a young Octavia Spencer or Raven Goodwin. She’s friendly, warm, and excitable.

Tiffany — is sarcastic and practical, tiny and sharp. Squints when she talks (I don’t know if that’s helpful, but that’s how I imagine her).

Jolene — Nash’s ex-wife (antagonist).  A bit of a femme fatale. She’s smart and successful, vindictive, and very jealous of Maizie. She’s mostly in the first 2 books and more in reference or short scenes in the other ones. Her Southern accent shouldn’t be too strong because she wouldn’t want to appear too “townie.”

I hope these profiles give you as listeners/readers an indication of the personalities at work in the Maizie Albright Star Detective series. I had a lot of fun creating the characters and hope you have as much fun meeting them! Thanks so much for having me here today.

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About the Author

The Wall Street Journal bestselling author Larissa Reinhart writes the award-winning Cherry Tucker Mystery, Maizie Albright Star Detective, and Finley Goodhart Crime Caper series. She loves to tell funny stories about women, looking for love (and sometimes dead bodies) in all the wrong places.

Larissa, her family, and Cairn Terrier, Biscuit, lived in Nagoya, Japan, but have returned to Peachtree City, Georgia. You can see them on HGTV’s House Hunters International “Living for the Weekend in Nagoya” episode. Larissa loves books, food, and traveling with her family. You can often see her adventures on Instagram (and her little dog, too).

Visit Larissa’s website to join her VIP Readers email group and get the free prequel to The Cupid Caper plus other exclusive bonus content! www.larissareinhart.com

Website // Facebook // Goodreads // Instagram

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About the Narrator

Born in Honolulu, HI, Joan DuKore began her performing career as a ballet dancer, and attended Virginia School of the Arts to continue her education. Her hobby of magic later became her profession, and she continues to perform in Las Vegas and around the world. Her love of reading eventually led to voice acting. She has produced over 30 audiobooks in numerous genres such as thrillers, romances, memoirs, mysteries and fantasies. She loves locking herself in her booth and living in the worlds that authors create.

Website // Twitter // Facebook

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Play an excerpt here.

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Follow the tour here.

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Book Review: The Boy From The Woods by Harlan Coben @HarlanCoben @GrandCentralPub

The Boy From The Woods
Harlan Coben
Grand Central Publishing, March 2020
ISBN 978-1-5387-4814-5
Hard Cover

At the start of this novel we are introduced to the boy referred to in the book’s title.  Thirty years ago, Wilde, as he is now known, was discovered living in the woods in a rural area of New Jersey.  According to the police there was never any report of a missing child. No relatives ever came forward to claim him.

Intriguing as that opening of Coben’s new stand alone is, the novel moves to the present and concerns another child who has gone missing. Her name is Naomi Pines and she’s a teenager who attends a local high school in the town of Westville, New Jersey.   Matthew, a  fellow student, is concerned for Naomi’s welfare.  He’s contacted his grandmother, Hester Crimstein, a well-known New York criminal attorney to enlist her help.

Hester sets things in motion in the search to find Naomi, calling on the local police and contacting Wilde, who’d been befriended by Hester’s son David, Matthew’s father, years ago.

The relationships in this novel are complicated and there are a few more characters  to meet who are involved in a political plot pertaining to a candidate running for President of the United States.

I’m sure you’ll agree that this might be hard to keep track of,  but rest assured you are in the hands of a well known and loved Master.  Jump in…you’ll be glad you did.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and hope Mr. Coben will return to with a sequel so that we might learn more about the Wilde boy from the woods.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2020.

Book Review: Trafficked! by Thomas A. Burns, Jr. @3Mdetective

Trafficked!
A Natalie McMasters Mystery #3
Thomas A. Burns
Tekrighter LLC,  April 2019
ISBN 978-0-578-44718-6
Trade Paperback

Natalie McMasters is a private investigator trainee and the narrator of this emotional, terror-steeped and frank novel of love, loss, desperation, enslavement and retribution. She’s good at surveillance, patient, calm and alert. She hasn’t had much training or experience in developing projects that consider all possible events and outcomes, so she travels on grit and instinct.

She’s married, to a young Latino lady who is in the states illegally and thus has no standing with ICE. When ICE comes looking, Lupe runs, leaving a distraught Natalie to wonder about the future. Natalie’s decision, after very little consideration, is to go looking for Lupe. The trail leads to New York where Natalie becomes tangled with city law enforcement, a gaggle of street people, a detective from her hometown, and finally, an evil band of Albanian sex traffickers.

This explicitly written novel starts slowly and ramps up to a frenetic pace almost immediately as Natalie and her detective friend wander through some of the seamier sections of New York and encounter interesting characters on both sides of the law. Scenes are well developed and often gripping in substance. The author captures a good sense of the scenes and characters in the city and on the Albanian’s ship, in a very adult and explicit fashion.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: Death and the Viking’s Daughter by Loretta Ross and Ghosts of Guatemala by Collin Glavac

Death and the Viking’s Daughter
An Auction Block Mystery #4
Loretta Ross
Midnight Ink, February 2018
ISBN 978-0-7387-5237-2
Trade Paperback

Auctioneer Wren Morgan with her fellow workers is preparing for an auction of a strange night club that was constructed on the plans of a Cincinnati nightclub that was the scene of a disastrous fire. A small level of nervousness is apparent.

At about the same time, her fiancé Death (pronounced Deeth) Bogart is tasked by a museum director to look into an apparent theft of a painting, a painting worth more to the owners due to the subject than for its artistic merit.

While preparing the site for the coming auction, a resident collapses upon seeing a figure in the nearby woods who looks like his long-missing daughter. Meanwhile, Wren and Death (pronounced Deeth) are looking for a home to buy. They find one at the end of a roadway not far away where a man, name unknown, is buried beneath rosebushes in the yard.

Get the picture? This is not a complicated mystery, but it has several threads that are cleverly woven together in this carefully and very well-written novel. Eventually all these threads will come together, along with tension-filled meetings between Wren and Death’s parent groups.

The tranquil setting becomes well-used as a foil against the tension that builds up. Private investigator Death Bogart wends his careful way through a variety of interesting experiences all while worrying about presenting a positive image to his about-to-be in-laws. A fun and intriguing novel that I recommend especially for those readers who are not wedded to intense and brutal violence on the page.

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

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Ghosts of Guatemala
Collin Glavac
NIMA, November 2019
ISBN 978-1-9991631-6-7
Trade Paperback

Here is a terrific idea with some interesting characters in imperfectly realized circumstances. The novel begins with a bang, the attempted assassination of a Guatemalan drug czar. The scene is potent, rife with tension and murderous action. Unfortunately, although the assassination is successful, the assassin also dies in the attempt.

We then switch to scenes of dissention, corruption, loss of confidence and general incompetence in an important US government agency, the Central Intelligence Agency. Then commences a long and wandering dissertation about the life and development of a Seal, one John Carpenter. Sometime later in his career, he is mysteriously detached from the Navy to become an agent for the CIA, specializing in Latin America.

He is tasked with retaliation against the Guatemalan drug cartel, an assignment which takes the narrative deeply and in considerable detail inside that country. The narrative is wordy, resulting in an overlong novel which levels criticism against the U.S. government, the CIA specifically and the American public in general.

A good editor would have reduced the novel by at least a third and in the process elevated the action and tension. While some of the characters are unusual and more than passingly interesting, the novel’s potential is largely obscured in wordiness and a somewhat negative attitude.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, April 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: Copper and Goldie by Rosemary and Larry Mild

Copper and Goldie
Rosemary & Larry Mild
Magic Island Literary Works, September 2019
ISBN 978-0-9905472-5-9
Trade Paperback

On the cover of the book it states – 13 Tails of Mystery and Suspense in Hawai’i.  In the first of the 13 short stories we meet Sam Nahoe, a Detective Sergeant  in the Homicide unit of the Honolulu Police Department, who with his partner have been called out to check on a man who his neighbour says hasn’t been answering his phone or her knocks on his door. The detectives break into the apartment and find the man is dead, shot in the back while sitting at his desk.

The Detectives call in the forensic team and then proceed to check the  apartment for clues.  The following day, armed with evidence, they return to the apartment building, but things go awry and in an attempt to save his partner from being shot, Sam takes the bullet.

After months of rehab Sam has to make a difficult decision which sets him on a new path.

Each story involves Sam, now a cab driver with a new partner, Goldie, a Golden Retriever.  He and Goldie drive around town in search of fares and find themselves dealing with a variety of people including robbers, kidnappers and vengeful wives.

Together Sam and Goldie are up to the challenge and the stories of their encounters with various criminals and how they deal with them is light-hearted fun and an easy read.  Perfect to pass the time on a plane, bus or train ride. And what could be better than taking a few cab rides around the beautiful island of O’ahu solving mysteries.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, January 2020.

Book Review: Things in Jars by Jess Kidd @JessKiddHerself @AtriaBooks

Things In Jars
Jess Kidd
Atria Books, February 2020
ISBN: 978-1-9821-2128-0
Hardcover

When I first laid eyes on this novel I wasn’t going to read or review it. Not my kind of crime novel, I thought. But I read the first page. Then I read the entire thing, almost without stopping. This woman has a way with words and even more significantly, with story.

Here is London of the Victorian Age, but not the London of royalty and means. This is the London of disease, of violence and brutality, of starvation and lives too often begun and played out in darkness and misery, unseen, unremarked and unconsecrated. Here is London in myth and reality. More, here is a story that takes one to the edge of the sea and dares you to look deep, below the surface and just consider the possibilities.

Bridie Devine is an unusual anomaly in London. She’s a middle-aged single woman who supports herself as a private investigator. It’s the middle of the century and while prisons like Newgate are well-known, well-established protective police departments are not. The story chases Bridie back and forth from significant childhood among Irish contemporaries to recognition of her prodigious intellect at an early stage to considered analysis of facts and evidence.

Make no mistake, though this story deals prominently with other worldly manifestations, it is rooted in the mean and fraught world of the lower classes and with real human emotion and attitude. Here is a story that will grab you and not let go, even after the final page.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, February 2020.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

A Trio of Teeny Reviews @ajhackwith @AceRocBooks @DeanStPress @GrandCentralPub

The Library of the Unwritten
A Novel from Hell’s Library #1
A. J. Hackwith
Ace, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-98480-637-6
Trade Paperback

In a unique way of looking at what Hell must be like, there are books that never got finished, or even started, by their authors and someone—Claire—has to be in charge of those books. Why? Because the characters in those stories can escape and create havoc, of course 😉

When one particular hero goes on the run, looking for his creator, Claire is in hot pursuit along with her assistant and a demon. They all soon discover they’re really on a quest to find a particular powerful artifact, the Devil’s Bible, that Heaven also wants and a fallen angel is determined to redeem himself by recovering. If Claire and her crew don’t find it first, Heaven and Hell are likely to explode into war with Earth caught in the middle.

To put it simply, I loved this book that’s full of adventure, mystery, humor and a wealth of marvelous beings and, when it comes time to re-read it—and I’m very sure I will—I think I’ll try the audiobook for a fresh take.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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The Mystery of the Peacock’s Eye
The Anthony Bathurst Mysteries #3
Brian Flynn
Dean Street Press, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-913054-39-7
Trade Paperback

Gentleman sleuth Anthony Bathurst and Scotland Yard’s Chief Detective-Inspector Richard Bannister work together to discover how three separate cases are indeed not separate but intertwined to a fare thee well. Blackmail, murder, indiscretions, thievery, hidden identities and a “magnificent blue-shaded emerald”…all come together clue by clue in this delightful traditional mystery full of red herrings that had me coming and going, always eager to follow the next lead.

Aficionados of Golden Age mysteries will want to get their hands on this long-forgotten book as soon as possible. You might say it’s criminal that Brian Flynn‘s works fell into a black hole many years ago but, now that new editions of some of his titles are being released, we all have a chance to savor a journey back in time.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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Old Bones
Nora Kelly #1
Preston & Child
Grand Central Publishing, August 2019
ISBN 978-1538747223
Hardcover

We’ve met Nora Kelly before in some of the Pendergast novels and I’ve always liked her so I’m delighted she has her own series now. Along with Nora, we meet another character from the past, Corrie Swanson, who used to be a Goth teen with purple hair and attitude. Her connection to Pendergast when he hired her to drive him around during a case led her to become an FBI agent and she’s still trying to corral her mouthy rebellious streak.

When historian Clive Benton convinces archaeologist Nora Kelly and her employer, the Santa Fe Archaeological Institute, to undertake a search for and excavation of the Lost Camp, an offshoot of the Donner Party’s known snowbound locations, no one expects the FBI to intervene in the dig on site. Agent Corrie Swanson has been investigating the possible ties among a string of grave robberies and a missing person and has, perhaps precipitously, connected them to the dig. Her arrival at the site leads to a shutdown and murders and she and Nora are forced to work together to find the killer(s).

Although the identity of the killer(s) was a bit too predictable, I thoroughly enjoyed Old Bones and relish the promise of more collaborations between Nora and Corrie with a little Pendergast thrown in 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.