Book Review: Past and Present by Judy Penz Sheluk @JudyPenzSheluk @AnAudiobookworm

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Title: Past & Present
Series: A Marketville Mystery #2
Author: Judy Penz Sheluk
Narrator: Kelli Lindsay
Publication Date: April 8, 2019

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Past & Present
A Marketville Mystery #2
Judy Penz Sheluk
Narrated by Kelli Lindsay
Judy Penz Sheluk, April 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Sometimes the past reaches out to the present. It’s been 13 months since Calamity (Callie) Barnstable inherited a house in Marketville under the condition that she search for the person who murdered her mother 30 years earlier. She solves the mystery, but what’s next? Unemployment? Another nine-to-five job in Toronto?  

Callie decides to set down roots in Marketville, take the skills and knowledge she acquired over the past year, and start her own business: Past & Present Investigations. 

It’s not long before Callie and her new business partner, best friend Chantelle Marchand, get their first client: a woman who wants to find out everything she can about her grandmother, Anneliese Prei, and how she came to a “bad end” in 1956. It sounds like a perfect first assignment. Except for one thing: Anneliese’s past winds its way into Callie’s present, and not in a manner anyone – least of all Callie – could have predicted.

Callie solved the mystery her deceased dad set before her, not necessarily in a golden glow but at least satisfactorily according to the terms of his will, but then found herself kind of betwixt and between, wondering what to do with herself next. It didn’t take long for her to realize that she and her best friend, Chantelle, should become private investigators since they had learned a lot about doing that sort of work, particularly with regards to genealogy. Soon enough, they have a case, but Callie is about to be gobsmacked when one of the leads they’re following takes them down a very unexpected path.

Setting that tidbit aside—no need to inform the client just yet—the search for Anneliese’s past begins and, being interested in family history myself, I was really interested in seeing how they looked into old medical records, photos, even ship records for immigrants. As is almost always true, a lot of surprises come to light before Callie and Chantelle get to the truth about Anneliese and her difficult life.

Curiously, Callie’s great-grandmother, Olivia, enters her life just when hers is about to end and Callie learns much more about her own past and perhaps a little about why her grandfather is so hostile towards her. Unfortunately for Callie, she’ll soon learn just how horrible he can be.

This second audiobook in the series has a different narrator and, while I appreciated both for different reasons, Kelli Lindsay appealed to me more. Her voices are quite distinctive but I especially enjoyed her lively interpretation and pacing.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

About the Author

Judy Penz Sheluk is the Amazon international bestselling author of the Glass Dolphin Mystery and Marketville Mystery series. Her short stories can be found in several collections, including Live Free or Tri and The Best Laid Plans, which she edited. Judy is also a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and Crime Writers of Canada, where she serves as Vice Chair on the Board of Directors. Find her at http://www.judypenzsheluk.com.

WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreadsInstagram

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About the Narrator

Kelli Lindsay’s versatile style and years of experience with commercial, corporate and e-learning projects have created a dream career for her. She has lent her talents to TV, radio, video games, and various other fantastic projects, but she proudly admits that her true passion is narrating audiobooks. Her professional training has taught her how to put herself into the script or audiobook and deliver an incredible performance. With her professionalism and love for what she does, Kelli ensures that her clients and listeners get to hear exactly what they’re looking for!

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Book Review: The Last Thing She Said by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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Title: The Last Thing She Said
Series: A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery #3
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: September 16, 2019

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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The Last Thing She Said
A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery #3

Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, September 16, 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

“I’m working on the greatest mystery ever,” was the last thing noted mystery novelist Mercedes Livingston said to seven-year-old Chris Matheson before walking out of Hill House Hotel never to be seen again.

For decades, the writer’s fate remained a puzzling mystery until an autographed novel and a letter put a grown-up Chris Matheson on the trail of a cunning killer. With the help of a team of fellow retired law enforcement officers, each a specialist in their own field of investigation, Chris puts a flame to this cold case to uncover what had really happened that night Mercedes Livingston walked out of Hill House Hotel. Watch out! The clues are getting hot!

It all starts out simply enough when an acclaimed mystery author and her husband are abducted but years later, the case, which had never been solved even though the husband’s remains had been found, comes to light again in a surprising way. Retired FBI agent Chris Matheson is closely involved through his mother’s long friendship with a woman named Shannon and he and the rest of the Geezer Squad are compelled to take up this very cold case. This, after all, is what the Geezers do best and they bring many talents to the task at hand.

Before long, more crimes, seemingly unrelated, begin to surface. Some of these are also from the past while some are new, most likely caused by digging into the old case and what appeared to be simple and straightforward suddenly isn’t. One thread after another develops and Chris and his bookclub cohorts decide to bring in a little extra help, that of Mac Faraday, Archie Monday and David O’Callaghan from Spencer, MD, and Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates from Chester, WV. All are central characters in two other series by Ms. Carr and they play integral roles here. Accompanying all these detecting folks are a bunch of rambunctious animals—including German Shepherds Sterling and Gnarly, a bunny named Thor clothed in pink frills, a cat named Irving who’s disguised as a skunk, an anklebiter named Chompers and more four-legged critters—and they bring a lighthearted side to the tale. In fact, one of my very favorite storylines involves elected mayor Gnarly, a lot of toilet paper, a few wildlife criminals and Gnarly’s feud with a political enemy. I totally loved that and it will remind you of current events 😉

So, with a plethora of characters, possible motives and side crimes that may or may not be connected, the hunt is on for answers and the ride couldn’t be much more complex, just the way a good mystery should go, in my opinion. Adding to the fun is outstanding narration by Mike Alger who has wormed his way into my top five voiceover artists and helped propel The Last Thing She Said into one of my favorite books read in 2019 and this series into the top of Lauren Carr’s bibliography.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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“Too many twists and turns to easily share about this
book. Nevertheless, Carr has pulled off another “hit”
that kept me reading in one setting until the clues were
so well together that the villain fell into our laps…or
Chris’s, LOL Carr has put a lot into the book beyond the
mysteries this time…Characters enjoyed chocotinis,
visited book stores…and even blundered into getting engaged
(the ring had been purchased 4 months ago)… But,
for me, a special thank you for the political spoof at a time
when politics at the national level is devastating,
gave me a laugh and lightened the load of it all!”
— Review by Glenda Bixler, Book Reader’s Heaven

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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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Giveaway

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

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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.

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

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: Heart of Barkness by Spencer Quinn—and a Giveaway! @ChetTheDog @ForgeReads @recordedbooks

Heart of Barkness
A Chet and Bernie Mystery #9
Spencer Quinn
Narrated by Jim Frangione
Recorded Books, July 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook
Forge Books, July 2019
ISBN 978-1-250-29772-3
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Chet the dog, “the most lovable narrator in all of crime fiction” (Boston Globe) and P.I. Bernie encounter heartache and much worse in the world of country music. They’re both music lovers, so when Lotty Pilgrim, a country singer from long ago, turns up at a local bar, they drive out to catch her act. Bernie’s surprised to see someone who was once so big performing in such a dive, and drops a C-note the Little Detective Agency can’t afford to part with into the tip jar. The C-note is stolen right from under their noses – even from under Chet’s, the nose that misses nothing – and before the night is over, it’s stolen again.

Soon they’re working the most puzzling case of their career, a case that takes them back in time in search of old border-town secrets, and into present-day danger where powerful people want those secrets to stay hidden. Chet and Bernie find themselves sucked into a real-life murder ballad where there is no one to trust but each other.

Spending time with two of my favorite detective partners is always such a pleasure and Chet and Bernie have not let me down this time (as if they ever do). This is more than just a man and his dog; this is a crime-fighting duo that is good at what they do because they’re so very much in tune with each other.

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Speaking of being in tune, the country music world is at the heart of their latest case, specifically investigating a murder with the aim of proving someone’s innocence. Lotty’s career goes back decades and, as Bernie digs deeper with Chet’s unique brand of assistance, they unearth secrets and family issues she never wanted revealed but these long ago truths may be her only way out of jail.
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As always, Chet tells the story with his usual doggy charm and his own understanding of the strange ways of humans. Naturally, Chet is sure that Bernie can do no wrong but even he is surprised at learning new things about his partner and best friend. For instance, who knew Bernie could ride horses, especially a feisty one named Mingo?

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As I said, reading a new Chet and Bernie adventure is a pleasure and listening to the story makes it even better. Spencer Quinn creates wonderful personalities and narrator Jim Frangione brings them to life, especially the most loveable dog in bookdom.
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Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, August 2019.
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To enter the drawing for an Advance
Reading Copy of Heart of Barkness
just leave a comment below. The
winning name will be drawn on the
evening of Thursday, August 8th.
Open to the US and Canada.

Book Review: Five Days, Five Dead by Carol Wright Crigger—and a Giveaway!

Five Days, Five Dead
A China Bohannon Novel #5
Carol Wright Crigger
Five Star Publishing, December 2018
ISBN 978-1-4328-4729-6
Hardcover

From the publisher—

Sepp Amsel, a fabulously successful gambling hall and saloonkeeper entrepreneur, is about to become the bridegroom in the most public wedding ever to take place in wild and woolly Spokane, Washington. He wants to engage China’s detective services when his fiancee’s sister is kidnapped and a substantial ransom demanded. There’s just one problem. The client thinks it’s possible he’s being bamboozled because things don’t quite add up. Only days remain for China to figure out why the sister was snatched and not the bride. But the clock is ticking. Worse, it isn’t long until murder becomes part of the equation. First a bellhop, then a tailor. Who will be next? China had better find out soon, before she, too, becomes a target for murder.

China Bohannon is a young woman blessed with determination, intelligence and the ability and desire to look out for herself quite well but, unfortunately for China, she lives in a time when those characteristics are not generally seen as positive virtues. She’d very much like to be a “real” detective in her uncle’s agency but Uncle Monk and his partner, Gratton Doyle (who is much too attractive), just can’t be convinced that this is work suitable for a woman so she snatches her chances when she can.

When Sepp Amsel walks into the Doyle & Howe Detective Agency, China is fortuitously the only one there and she’s intrigued by what he tells her, starting with the fact that he came to engage her in particular. Amsel is in the gambling and saloon business and there are only a few days to save the young woman who has been abducted for ransom. Time might be especially short as the kidnappers have taken the wrong woman.

An already suspicious situation becomes more so when the Austrian mail order bride, sister of the kidnap victim, is less than helpful and, of course, there’s a whole lot more to this case. When Uncle Monk and Gratton find out about it, they naturally try to take over but they get led astray and China soon finds herself in a world of trouble, largely because of her inexperience. With the help of a few friends and with her beloved Bedlington terrier, Nimble, by her side China manages to keep one step ahead of mortal danger while following leads through the seamy side of Spokane during a harsh winter spell. Bodies are accumulating, though, and she has a lot of clues to sift through. Eventually, the guys return and their assistance is not entirely unwelcome.

Will the plaque in the office window ever read “Doyle, Howe & Bohannon”? Only time will tell if the two men will eventually acknowledge her talents enough to take the big step but, in the meantime, China is honing her skills one case at a time. I hope she’ll attain her dream one day but I’m enjoying watching her learn how to be a proper detective and can’t wait for her next adventure. This one is going on my list of best books read in 2019.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

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To enter the drawing for an Advance
Reading Copy of Five Days, Five Dead
just leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on the evening of
Friday, July 26th. Open to the US and Canada.

 

Book Review: A Promise Given by Michelle Cox—and a Giveaway!

A Promise Given
A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel #3
Michelle Cox
She Writes Press, April 2018
ISBN 978-1-63152-373-1
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Anxious to be married, Henrietta and Clive push forward with their wedding plans despite their family differences, made worse now by Oldrich Exley’s attempts to control the Von Harmons. When the long-awaited wedding day arrives, there is more unfolding than just Clive and Henrietta’s vows of love. Stanley and Elsie’s relationship is sorely tested by the presence of the dashing Lieutenant Harrison Barnes-Smith and by Henrietta’s friend Rose―a situation that grows increasingly dark and confused as time goes on.

As Clive and Henrietta begin their honeymoon at Castle Linley, the Howards’ ancestral estate in England, they encounter a whole new host of characters, including the eccentric Lord and Lady Linley and Clive’s mysterious cousin, Wallace. When a man is murdered in the village on the night of a house party at the Castle, Wallace comes under suspicion―and Clive and Henrietta are reluctantly drawn into the case, despite Clive’s anxiety at involving his new bride and Henrietta’s distracting news from home.

Delicately attempting to work together for the first time, Clive and Henrietta set out to prove Wallace’s innocence, uncovering as they do so some rather shocking truths that will shake the Linley name and estate forever.

Following their Chicago wedding, Henrietta Von Harmon and Clive Howard leave tumultuous family issues behind, heading for a honeymoon in England at the ancestral Howard estate, Castle Linley, but their romantic interlude is affected by current events. It’s 1935 and the lingering effects of World War I can be seen and felt along with financial troubles stemming from the Great Depression but it’s a murder in the nearby village that shocks everyone.

Detective Chief Inspector John Hartle quickly suspects Wallace Howard, Clive’s cousin. Formerly a police detective, Clive is drawn in by his fondness for Wallace to investigate with Henrietta’s help; meanwhile, she’s trying to accustom herself to the trappings of British society and then receives unwelcome and distracting news from home regarding her family. The two are very surprised when they discover why Wallace has been so secretive but this knowledge may not lead to Wallace’s being cleared.

To me, this installment focused too much on the romance elements and even provided more, er, details than I cared to know while the mystery kind of took a back seat. Still, the setting is delightful, the nods of appreciation to Pride and Prejudice are fun and I particularly enjoyed seeing the beginnings of a brand new private investigation agency.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

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To enter the drawing for a trade
paperback copy of A Promise Given,
leave a comment below. The winning
name will be drawn on the evening of
Thursday, July 11th. This drawing is
open to residents of the US and Canada.

Book Review: Murder in the City of Liberty by Rachel McMillan

Murder in the City of Liberty
A Van Buren and DeLuca Mystery #2
Rachel McMillan
Thomas Nelson, May 2019
ISBN 978-0-7852-1696-4
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Hamish DeLuca and Regina “Reggie” Van Buren have a new case—and this one could demand a price they’re not willing to pay.

Determined to make a life for herself, Reggie Van Buren bid goodbye to fine china and the man her parents expected her to marry and escaped to Boston. What she never expected to discover was that an unknown talent for sleuthing would develop into a business partnership with the handsome, yet shy, Hamish DeLuca.

Their latest case arrives when Errol Parker, the leading base stealer in the Boston farm leagues, hires Hamish and Reggie to investigate what the Boston police shove off as a series of harmless pranks. Errol believes these are hate crimes linked to the outbreak of war in Europe, and he’s afraid for his life. Hamish and Reggie quickly find themselves in the midst of an escalating series of crimes.

When Hamish has his careful constructed life disrupted by a figure from his past, he is driven to a decision that may sever him from Reggie forever . . . even more than her engagement to wealthy architect Vaughan Vanderlaan.

Ahh, Reggie and Hamish are a charming couple although, strictly speaking, they aren’t really a couple because they’re studiously resisting any kind of romantic attraction. They do, however, have a strong partnership in their detective agency and, even in these early days, they’re getting noticed.

Their latest case involves a black man, a baseball player who wants to break the color barrier in the big leagues. Errol Parker retains Hamish and Reggie to look into what the police call pranks being played against him but they soon realize these are acts of racism and there is nothing prankish about these attacks. This is 1940 and Boston is a hotbed of racism, particularly against blacks and ethnic minorities, so they have a formidable task identifying the perpetrator(s) and stopping them.

Meanwhile, Hamish is dealing with a kind of anxiety disorder and a tricky relationship with the criminal world and Reggie is fighting to maintain a distance from her high society background. This story is, realistically. more of a character study of Reggie, Hamish and a variety of peripheral players than a mystery but, for all that, Murder in the City of Liberty is an entertaining tale.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, July 2019.

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Purchase Links:
Barnes  & Noble // Kobo // Amazon
Books-A-Million // Indiebound

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About the Author

Rachel McMillan is the author of the Herringford and Watts mysteries, the Three Quarter Time series of contemporary romances set in opulent Vienna, and the Van Buren and DeLuca mysteries praised for bringing an authentic 1930’s Boston world to life while normalizing the fictional conversation surrounding mental illness. Her first work of non-fiction, described as a romantic’s guide to independent travel, releases in 2020. Rachel lives in Toronto, Canada.

Connect with Rachel
Website // Facebook // Twitter // Instagram

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