Book Review: Eventide by R.L. Ryker

Eventide
A Chief Mattson Mystery #1
R.L. Ryker
R.L. Ryker, April 2021
ISBN 979-8723281097
Trade Paperback

A well-written, carefully plotted novel of murder and solution by confident organized small-town cops. The story line follows returning home-town boy, Brandon Mattson, who goes up the west coast from Seattle, where he became an experienced homicide investigator, back to Forks, Washington, as the new Chief of Police.

Brandon’s younger brother, also a cop, was murdered there. Now Brandon as the newly hired Chief of Police, faces old friends, lovers and the usual suspicions. He’s cleverly faced with an array of other difficulties as a former-new resident.

An old lover and a new possibility vie for his attention, as does the problem of his teen daughter who is fighting with Brandon’s ex. Although he’s been hired as the new Chief, forces in the town of Forks and among members of local law enforcement rise and fall, creating additional concerns. Layered on his personal concerns is the murder on the beach of a young woman. Mattson faces serious pressure to solve the crime quickly to avoid disrupting important civic plans.

The novel is nicely written, logical, clean and very realistic. From the very beginning the book feels small-town-comfortable with the tension from civic leaders who are watching his performance to the resistance and support of the cadre of local cops. Eventide is a competent, well-designed logical story with just the right elements of description, tension and resolution.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, May 2021.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Reviews: Cold Cases Solved by Robert Keller and Cemetery Girl by Joseph Cognard @rkeller_author @JosephCognard

Cold Cases Solved: Volume 1
Robert Keller
Robert Keller, February 2021
ISBN 979-8705110858
Trade Paperback

Cold Cases Solved: Volume 1 by Robert Keller is a succinct, true-crime collection of eighteen murder cases. By “succinct” I mean to say that when the book arrived, I was a bit bummed by the size. I thought that “Volume 1” must be only the first case.

Happily, I was wrong.

Mr. Keller really can (and does) aptly convey the circumstances of each situation in fewer than two hundred pages. His writing reminds of Ann Rule’s, in that we know what went down and are affected by the actions, but are spared gratuitous, graphic details. Also, there is little, if any, cursing which can broaden my scope of students that I can share with.

Speaking of sharing this with my students, these chapters are perfect for the self-professed “non-reader”. As previously mentioned, they are short. And contain small sections that seem to eliminate the intimidation of big books with tiny font.

Although I read, listen to and watch enough true-crime to be alarming, I was only familiar with a couple of these felonies.

Many cases seem to go cold due to determined presumptions. This is the first time I’ve heard of someone confessing because of found evidence assumed to seal his fate, only to later realize it had no relation to him or his crime.

I had never heard that taking someone’s life, while committing another crime against said person, equates to murder.

One criminal was able to commit his heinous act because only two days prior, he was acquitted of rape. Found “not guilty by reason of insanity”.

As an aside, I also learned about The Melbourne Cup, an Australian much-more-than-a-horse-race festivity dating back to 1861.

I will certainly be searching for further volumes of Mr. Keller’s Cold Cases Solved, for my own entertainment and edification and to share with “my” students.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2021.

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Cemetery Girl
Joseph Cognard
Joseph Cognard, April 2012
ISBN 978-0615624006
Trade Paperback

A single cemetery evokes a variety of emotions.

Vanessa feels that a graveyard does not serve as the grooviest hang-out spot, even if it is private. Bobby sees the tombstones as mini history lessons, where Keith certainly seems to be searching for some kind of connection. But to Janie, the Cemetery Girl, comes comfort…even if the tombs tend to tickle a sort-of sixth sense.

None of the friends are wrong. Inside of the fence, there are stories to be shared. Sadly, the souls with so much to say cannot communicate with the family and friends that need to hear these messages. Maybe they haven’t found the right medium.

While I’ve devoured and delighted in tons of tales centered around tombstones, The Cemetery Girl by Joseph Cognard presents a premier plot. And one I’m particularly pleased with. Sneaky subtleties slowly show that the puzzle the kids are trying to solve is actually only one part of a much larger portrait.

I really enjoyed the character interactions and the layers that wove the story together, and wrapped it up, leaving just enough left-over to have me hoping for more.

Reviewed by jv poore, April 2019.

Book Review: Complicit by Amy Rivers

Complicit
A Legacy of Silence Novel #1
Amy Rivers
Compathy Press, April 2021
ISBN 978-1-7345160-4-3
Trade Paperback

I had heard about this book and I was looking forward to reading it and expected to like it.  In Complicit we meet Kate Medina, a former prison forensic psychologist, who was doing work she loved until she was brutally attacked by a prisoner.  Battered and bruised she returned to her hometown of Alamogordo, NM and has been there for the past five years.  Those five years have been difficult – her mother died, her father is gravely ill, and she is estranged from her only sibling, a sister who moved to another state, does not stay in touch, and refuses to return to Alamogordo.  Kate is now a school psychologist – an ok job but not what she trained for and loved doing.  Add to that she has had to face Roman, her best friend when they were both teenagers.  The last time they saw each other before Kate left, they found a burned car on the beach with a body in it.  Unfortunately, Roman has never gotten over the fact that Kate went away to college without even a goodbye and never returned until five years ago and they have barely seen each other since her return.

Fast forward to present day and Kate is trying to work with a high school student who is hesitant to talk with her but who is clearly very troubled.  Shortly after trying to talk with that student, another student disappears and Roman who is now a detective with the town’s police force, visits Kate’s office to talk with her about the missing student.  Needless to say, it’s an awkward conversation both due to their history and Kate’s concern about her students’ confidentiality.

From there we begin to learn that something very frightening is happening to women and girls in this relatively small town and that a lot of people seem to know about it including, Kate eventually finds out, someone very close to her and it soon becomes clear to her that she is not safe in this town when she receives anonymous notes demanding she leave.

As I said, I was prepared to like this novel based on others’ opinions.  I wish I could say I liked it, but I didn’t.  I found it very uneven.  On the one hand, parts of it are interesting and move very quickly but other parts are drearily plodding.  The main characters are not fully realized and are two dimensional; the demeanor of each is generally angry and rigid with occasional glimpses of less hostile behavior.  I should also warn you that the story includes dialogue about brutal sexual assaults and abuse of girls and women.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, March 2021.

Book Review: Eden Lost by Andrew Cunningham @arcnovels @GH_Narrator @AnAudiobookworm

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Author: Andrew Cunningham

Narrator: Greg Hernandez

Length: 6 hours 31 minutes

Series: Eden Rising, Book 2

Publisher: Andrew Cunningham

Released: Jan. 15, 2021

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller

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Book Review: Mink Eyes by Dan Flanigan @_DanFlanigan

Mink Eyes
A Peter O’Keefe Novel #1
Dan Flanigan
Arjuna Books, February 2019
ISBN 978-1-7336103-0-8
Trade Paperback

Fraud, scams, a Ponzi scheme, magnificent scenery, murder, sex, drinking, drugs and assorted violence form the structure and content of this novel, a morass of failed relationships and get rich quick efforts.

Pete O’Keefe is a former marine, veteran of the war in Viet Nam. He drinks too much, avoids drugs, and struggles to maintain a relationship with his young daughter after being divorced. He runs a PI agency that works mostly in non-violence contexts, but things are not going all that smoothly.

When two investors in a down-country mink farm develop suspicions about the operation they turn to O’Keefe’s long-time buddy, a successful attorney who frequently hires O’Keefe’s detective agency and its cadre of part and full-time operatives.

O’Keefe agrees to look into the mink farm operation and the game is on. Apart from periodic discursions into philosophical ruminations, the author moves the story along at a good pace, but this is not high-tension thriller territory until we get to the last quarter of the novel. O’Keefe is an adept, mostly careful, ethical detective. He does his homework, listens to classical music, and ruminates on the ills and evils of the world.

There are a few bumps in the narrative, point of view shifts and some questionable grammatical constructions. Still, the novel is an interesting take on the somewhat troubled life of this vet and his efforts to get things right, maintain a positive relationship with his daughter, while solving crimes and presenting an interesting look at life.

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

Book Review: A Slaying Song Tonight by Fran Stewart

A Slaying Song Tonight
Fran Stewart
My Own Ship Press, September 2019
ISBN 978-1-9513680-1-2
Trade Paperback

Set in 1932, Susannah Lou Packard is on trial for the murder of a state representative, the son of a state senator who she murdered several years previously for which she is now serving a life sentence.  Nancy Lou Remington, a young reporter for a local newspaper,  having talked her editor into letting her interview Packard, visits her in the prison where she is being held to try and uncover the details of Packard’s vicious crimes.  The woman Nancy finds is not at all what she expected but after a few opening skirmishes, driven by Packard’s need to establish who is in charge, they begin talking.  The first thing Packard does is set some ground rules including that she will tell Nancy her whole story uninterrupted and Nancy can ask her questions only after she is done.  She also extracts Nancy’s promise not to talk to any of her family until the story is complete.  Reluctantly, Nancy agrees because she really wants the story and she feels that if she can get to Packard’s motives, a potential Pulitzer Prize may be in her future.

As the story unfolds, Nancy is drawn more and more into Packard’s life as Packard tells her that the two murders Packard admitted to committing are not her only crimes.  Nancy soon fills several notebooks with details of Packard’s crimes but is left to wonder at some discrepancies that creep into the stories.  But whenever Nancy tries to explore those, Packard insists that Nancy keep to the deal she made – no questions until she is finished.  Eventually Packard’s trial and her stories come to an end at which point Nancy visits Packard’s sister who helps clear up some of the discrepancies with information that astonishes Nancy.

In A Slaying Song Tonight, Stewart has painted a detailed portrait of a woman obsessed with killing and with making sure that the details of her chilling crimes are told.  For those who are not completely freaked out by serial killer stories I think you will find this book and the mind of a murderer fascinating.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, January 2021.

Book Review: Canopy by D.M. Darroch @YABoundToursPR

 

Canopy Book Tour! 
Feb. 1-5
Canopy
The Silvanus Saga Book One

by: D.M. Darroch
Sleepy Cat Press, January 2021

Genre: YA, Post-Apocalyptic,
Dystopian, Science Fiction
 
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See the girl in the trees. Catch her if you can.

 

Several centuries ago, a group of ecologists escaped the breakdown of a society ravaged by climate change by vanishing into giant, genetically engineered forests in the North American west. Dwelling among vast canopies that hover several thousand feet above the earth, their descendants fear the cannibals roaming far beneath them and cling to the teachings of their sacred text, The Book of Silvanus. 

 

Sixteen year-old Ostrya considers it a burden to train as the canopy’s next doctor. But her life’s work has been preordained—and she’s desperate to reclaim her mother’s love. When a cataclysmic storm wracks the canopy, Ostrya begins to face her doubts about the teachings of the book and the laws of the canopy. If she is to survive, she will have to decide if her destiny is in the treetops or on the forest floor…

Although Canopy is billed as dystopian, it’s also post-apocalyptic and the combination is one  of my favorite kinds  of science fiction. With both, the most crucial element is worldbuilding; it not only should be complex and thorough enough so the reader really understands this very different way of life but also entertaining enough to make the reader want to learn more. In my opinion, Ms. Darroch has let her imagination run and created one of the best settings I’ve read.
*
The author’s opening paragraph—having to do with spiders, of all things—let me know right away that I was in for an intriguing journey and, with each page, I was drawn in further. Imagine a world in which you never touch the ground, shoes are outlawed and genetic engineering has caused trees to become gigantic beings with the resulting increased oxygen production leading to the growth of lesser creatures that are six times the size of the same creatures generations earlier, before the devastating climate and health changes confronting humanity.
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Of course, all is not perfect for the tree dwellers and there are people still living on the ground with all its challenges The teen-aged Ostrya, pre-ordained to become a doctor because it’s expected of her, is restless and insecure about her future, wanting to know about the world below…and so begins a most interesting and fascinating tale, one I raced through but didn’t really want to finish. This will go on my list of best books read in 2021 and Book 2 can’t come fast enough 😉
*
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, February 2021.
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Buy Links: 

B & N // Amazon // Apple Books 

Rakuten/Kobo // Angus & Robertson // Thalia

bol.de // Indigo // Mondadori // Indiebound 

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Canopy Book Tour Giveaway Contest!

Giveaway Prizes: 

Grand Prize: Hammock! (US and Canada)

First Prize: $30 Amazon Gift Card! (International)

Second Prize: Hand-signed copy of paperback (US and
Canada) 

Third Prize: Ebook (International) 

To enter, please visit: 

Rafflecopter

 
(Giveaway runs Feb 1-19, 2021) 

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Author Bio:

D.M. Darroch is the author of the Inventor-in-Training series as well as other speculative fiction stories. Her books weave together nature and science with adventure and often a touch of humor. Danelle lives in Washington State, USA and enjoys long walks in the forest. Her website is: https://www.dmdarroch.com.

Website  // Goodreads // Amazon Author Page

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Follow the tour here.

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Tour created by YA Bound Book Tours