Book Review: Arizona Dreams by Jon Talton @jontalton @PPPress

Arizona Dreams
A Davide Mapstone Mystery #4
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen Press, September 2006
ISBN 978-1-59058-318-0
Hardcover

A former student visits David Mapstone’s office at the Phoenix Police Department, where he is a special sheriff’s appointee deputy who looks into cold cases. And enjoys some success, I might add. He doesn’t remember the woman from his teaching days, but the case she presents sounds interesting. She has received a letter containing details of a forty-year-old murder. When he investigates the remote section of dry Arizona desert mentioned in the letter, Mapstone is set upon and beaten by thugs.

Meanwhile, Mapstone’s wife has just gotten in touch with her half-sister, Robin. As they try to overcome previous conflicts, a neighbor is found murdered, with an ice-pick in his brain. Beset by curious details, Mapstone, aided in part by his wife, follows the old adage “follow the money,” which leads them on a trail of deception and murder that will finally bring all the various characters together. But first, just to add to the mayhem, throw in a few more murders and Robin’s attempted seduction of Mapstone.

The story is set in Phoenix, in the days when the city contained maybe fifty thousand souls. Water was rare and precious even then as the suburbs began their awkward sprawl. This is a fascinating look at what we now know became uncontrolled growth.

The writing is good, the premise is good. One or two things still puzzle me as to why they were included.  And although the book was published in 2006, with the ongoing problems of a big sprawling city like Phoenix, it all seems fresh.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, September 2020.
http://www.ckcrigger.com
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel

Book Reviews: Killer in the Band by Lauren Carr and The Root of Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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Title: Killer in the Band
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #3
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: January 26, 2017

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Killer in the Band
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #3
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, January 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Summer of Love & Murder

Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua “J.J.” Thornton Jr., has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross hairs of a murderer.

Much of Killer in the Band revolves around family issues, specifically Joshua’s disapproval of J.J.’s decision to move in with a woman who’s much older. It’s a very unusual pairing and Joshua can’t help believing it’s inappropriate even when his son repeatedly insists he and Suellen truly love each other.

Years ago, Suellen was part of a rock band that broke up rather unexpectedly when the lead singer announced he was leaving to start a solo career. Since then, no one in the band has had any contact with him. Suellen now owns the family dairy farm, a very successful operation and J.J. is helping her run it along with Clyde Brady, the farm manager whose wife was recently murdered. Cameron has been working that case, without much success, when she gets called in to a very cold case, one that is going to become dangerous to people in the present day even after all these years.

As so often happens in a Lauren Carr mystery, the threads here begin to multiply and weave together until it all seems impossible to see the truth but that’s also what had me so engrossed I had to keep going to discover, along with Cameron and Josh, where all this was going to end…and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. Oh, and we’re introduced to a new character who just might become rather important; she fits right in with all the animals, especially various horses.

Mike Alger continues to make me feel as though I’m right in the thick of things and I love his interpretation of the many characters. He’s a gem of a narrator.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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Title: The Root of Murder
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #4
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: May 31, 2019

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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The Root of Murder
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #4
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, May 2019
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Homicide Detective Cameron Gates learned long ago that there is no such thing as a typical murder case. Each mystery is special in its own right—especially for the family of the victim.The homicide of a successful executive, husband, and father seems open and shut when the murder weapon is found in his estranged son-in-law’s possession. The circumstantial evidence is so damning that when her step-son, J.J. Thornton, agrees to act as the defendant’s public defender, he assumes his first murder case will be a loss. Only the report of a missing husband proves that this case is not as open and shut as it seems. Strap on your seat belts for a wild ride in this mystery rooted in decades of deception that sprouts into murder.

When a burning body is found in a farming couple’s field, that turns out to be just the tip of the iceberg and there is no simple resolution to be found. The accused son-in-law is a mess of a human being, drowning in substance abuse to the point that he can’t possibly help with his own defense and Cameron has a niggling feeling that something isn’t right with this case. Considering the shortcomings of most vastly overworked public defenders, criminal attorney J.J. agrees to offer his services as public defender for Derek Ellison’s case.

Then a husband is reported as missing and there are hints that there could be a connection to the murder. Cameron and her new partner, Tony, are led hither and yon following improbable paths that are as convoluted as clues can get. Fortunately, author Lauren Carr has method in what looks like madness so I was never too far behind; still, I didn’t identify the killer till near the end.

Meanwhile, the Thornton family is wrapped up in J.J.’s and Poppy’s upcoming wedding, especially the search for the dress of Poppy’s dreams. The hardcore crime fiction reader might think that’s unnecessary fluff but, trust me, it isn’t and we learn a lot more about this appealing family and their love for one another, underpinning the deep professional trust between Joshua and Cameron. They’re all much more fortunate than the other families in this story and this is a compassionate look at what can go wrong…and, ultimately, how things can be made right. (I also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Admiral, the Great Dane-Irish Wolfhound, Maine Coon Irving, and especially Charley, a rooster with attitude.)

I’m running out of ways to say how much I like Mike Alger as the narrator but the truth is he’s top-notch with various voices and interpretations of tone and emotion. He never seems to hit a weak spot 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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.

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Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of
Lauren Carr, author of the
The Lovers in Crime Mysteries.

Enter here.

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Book Reviews: Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr and Real Murder by Lauren Carr @TheMysteryLadie @BooksbyAcorn @iReadBookTours

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Title: Dead on Ice
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #1
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: November 23, 2016

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Dead on Ice
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #1
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, November 2016
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

Dead on Ice is the first installment of Lauren Carr’s new series (Lovers in Crime) featuring Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton and Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates. 

Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

A homicide detective and a prosecuting attorney are almost what you might consider a dream team when it comes to law enforcement and it’s certainly true in this series but, since Cameron and Josh don’t officially work together, we also frequently get the benefit of seeing investigations go in different directions. Certainly, that’s beneficial when the body-containing freezer is found in a hoarder’s house and, not long after, a bomb goes off.

Obviously, the first question is how did the porn star end up in the freezer followed by how did that freezer end up in Joshua’s cousin’s basement? Throw in the bomb element and connections between two cold cases and the hunt for clues is on. A plethora of characters, some of whom may very well be suspects, lead Cameron and Joshua on a compellingly twisty road to find final justice for these victims and many of these characters, such as the feuding church ladies, kept me wondering.

As always, the author introduces a few animals in the protagonists’ home life and, this time, the star is a wonderful Maine Coon named Irving. I have one of these delightful felines myself and am madly in love with this loving but curmudgeonly fluffybutt whose black and white coloring is decidedly not random splotches or the tuxedo effect 😉

Mike Alger continues doing a fine job with narration and I do hope he’ll always be the voice of Lauren Carr’s delightful mysteries.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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Title: Real Murder
Series: A Lovers in Crime Mystery #2
Author: Lauren Carr
Narrator: Mike Alger
Publication Date: January 10, 2017

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Purchase Links:
Audible // iTunes // Amazon

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Real Murder
A Lovers in Crime Mystery #2
Lauren Carr
Narrated by Mike Alger
Acorn Book Services, January 2017
Downloaded Unabridged Audiobook

From the author—

When Homicide Detective Cameron Gates befriends Dolly, the little old lady who lives across the street, she is warned not to get lured into helping the elderly woman by investigating the unsolved murder of one of her girls. “She’s senile,” Cameron is warned. “It’s not a real murder.”

Such is not the case. After Dolly is brutally murdered, Cameron discovers that the sweet blue-haired lady’s “girl” was a call girl, who had been killed in a mysterious double homicide.

Meanwhile, Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton is looking for answers to the murder of a childhood friend, a sheriff’s deputy whose cruiser is found at the bottom of a lake. The deputy had disappeared almost twenty years ago while privately investigating the murder of a local prostitute.

It doesn’t take long for the Lovers in Crime to put their cases together to reveal a long-kept secret that some believe is worth killing to keep undercover.

Ah, what harm could there be in listening to an old lady who keeps looking for someone to find out who killed her girl? Cameron is about to realize that there’s a whole lot behind Dolly’s querulous requests, especially after the woman is found murdered. Meanwhile, Josh is off on his own pursuit of truth after a friend from his childhood, a deputy who disappeared years ago shortly after talking to Josh, is found in his cruiser in a lake.

In a mystery that is chock full of connected threads, ominous notes from the past, evidence leading in many directions and a crazy quilt of possibilities, Cameron and Josh—and the reader—are led on a wild chase for the truths of the past and today. Every single time I thought “Aha!”, I was proven wrong and that, of course, propelled me down a mindbending path in search of answers, right along with our sleuthing duo.

This time around, we get a good look at relationships, not only between Joshua and Cam (and the fabulous Irving who is anything but a humdrum kitty) but also in other families. An interesting thread has to do with the tension between Josh’s daughter and Cameron, offset by the cheerful acceptance of a stepmother by Josh’s teenaged son, Donnie. This attention to family dynamics really enhanced the investigations and made me even more invested in the outcome.

Many of the players in this book were vividly brought to life by the narration by Mike Alger and I have to say his talents really shine here, particularly with regards to his evocation of tones and emotions. Anyone looking for their new favorite voiceover performer will be happily surprised by Mr. Alger.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2019.

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

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

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.

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

Follow the tour here.

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

Giveaway

Win a $50 Amazon gift card courtesy of
Lauren Carr, author of the
The Lovers in Crime Mysteries.

Enter here.

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