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 Review: The Long Call by Ann Cleeves @AnnCleeves @panmacmillan @MinotaurBooks

The Long Call
The Two Rivers #1
Ann Cleeves
Pan Macmillan, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-5098-8956-3
Trade Paperback
Minotaur, July 2020
ISBN 978-1-250-20445-5
Trade Paperback

Ann Cleeves is the well known author of two very popular mystery series; Shetland with detective Jimmy Perez, and Vera, with Detective Vera Stanhope. Here in The Long Call we meet a brand new Detective, DI Matthew Venn. Matthew has returned to Barnstaple in North Devon where he grew up. His father died recently but Matthew hadn’t seen or spoken to his parents since he began attending university, unable to conform to the strict evangelical group they belonged to known as the Barnum Brethren.

The body of a man with no identification has been found on the beach. He’s been stabbed and DI Venn’s first task is to identify the victim. It isn’t long before they learn he’s Simon Walden, a secretive man with mental issues and a relative stranger to the area.

As DI Venn, along with detectives DS Jen Rafferty and DS Ross May, begin their murder investigation we meet a number of the locals as they are interviewed. Widower Maurice Braddick and his thirty year old Down Syndrome daughter Lucy who attends the Woodyard Centre; Hilary and Colin Marston who have recently moved to the area and might have seen the victim prior to his death; Gabby Henry an artist who teaches painting at the Woodyard Community Centre, who isn’t telling the whole truth, and Caroline Preece with whom the victim had been staying.

There are a few more players in this intriguing mystery including DI Venn’s mother who reaches out to Matthew when her friend’s daughter Christine Shapland, Lucy’s friend and another Down Syndrome girl, disappears. Lives are in danger as the perpetrator attempts to stop the police from uncovering the truth and solving the murder.

Ann Cleeves is a master at portraying these small towns and the people who live in them. They are an endless source of interest as inevitably behind closed doors all is not what it seems…

I highly recommend this mystery and hope it’s the first in a new series featuring DI Matthew Venn. I was happy, however, to see a reference to a new title in Vera Stanhope’s series – The Darkest Evening – due out later this year.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, June 2020.

Book Review: Death on Tuckernuck by Francine Mathews @FMathewsAuthor @soho_press

Death on Tuckernuck
A Merry Folger Nantucket Mystery #6
Francine Mathews
Soho Crime, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-61695-993-7
Hardcover

Let me start by saying that I haven’t read previous books in Francine Mathews‘ series featuring Detective Meredith (Merry) Folger and Death on Tuckernuck has introduced me to just what I have been missing!  Merry Folger is a detective on the Nantucket (MA) police force who is about to get married when she is called to investigate a case in which the Coast Guard found two people shot in a boat drifting off Nantucket.  In the meantime, a Category 3 hurricane is headed for New England and everyone on Nantucket and the small private island of Tuckernuck is  boarding up windows and otherwise preparing for a huge storm.

Dionis Mather and her father, Jack Mather, run a small business getting supplies from the mainland for people on Nantucket and Tuckernuck and taking care of properties when the summer folk leave for the winter.  With the storm approaching, they are busy getting homes ready to weather the storm and taking people off the islands to shelters until the storm is over.  One of the major properties on Tuckernuck is owned by a very rich, very arrogant star NFL quarterback who happens to own a couple of horses along with his huge home on the island.  He has a groom for the horses, but she left, unwilling to stay alone on Tuckernuck while a hurricane is bearing down on the island.  On instructions from the owner’s personal assistant in New York that if the Mathers don’t go and take care of the horses they will be sued if anything happens to them, Dionis reluctantly agrees to go and see to them.  As it turns out, she runs into much bigger problems than the two horses.

I don’t want to say much more about the story because I don’t want to give away too much about the plot.  Suffice it to say that Mathews has written a really good mystery, one that kept me reading far into the night until I finished it.  I highly recommend this book.  For sure, I will be looking for the first five books in this series.

Reviewed by Melinda Drew, July 2020.

Book Review: Robert B. Parker’s Colorblind by Reed Farrel Coleman

Robert B. Parker’s Colorblind
A Jesse Stone Novel #17
Reed Farrel Coleman
Putnam, September 2018
ISBN 978-0-399-57494-8
Hardcover

One would not expect racial unrest in the sleepy town of Paradise, MA, but Jesse Stone and his cops have their hands full.  To begin with, a black woman is assaulted in a neighboring town and it is made to look like a murder that occurred in Paradise years before.  The woman was in a relationship with a white man, and unfortunately she dies.  Then another black female, Alisha, who Jesse hired for diversity purposes, responds to a call at a bar and is taunted by bikers.  She also has a relationship with a white man.  Soon, however, things get worse.

A cross is burned on the lawn of Jesse’s old house, which was bought by a couple, a white woman and a dark Indian man, with two children.  Apparently the fire was set with kerosene, and a check of places where it could have been bought turns up a CCTV image.  When Alisha spots the person captured in the CCTV as she emerges from a bar, legally over the limit, she chases him into a blind alley and responds to what she believes is a shot by shooting and killing him.

It turns out that the victim is the son of a strident agitator seeking to incite a race war.  Of course, a black cop killing a white person is the perfect excuse.  Especially when the investigation turns up no weapon by or near the victim.  Jesse to the rescue.  As a side story, Jesse now is abstaining from alcohol and is attending AA meetings.

Mr. Coleman continues to live up to the standards set by Robert B. Parker in this latest addition to the Jesse Stone series, and it is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, September 2018.

Book Review: Murder in Little Shendon by A.H. Richardson

Murder in Little Shendon
A Haxlitt-Brandon Mystery #1
A.H. Richardson
CreateSpace, August 2015
ISBN 978-1515283973
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Picture, if you will, a picturesque village called Little Shendon, suddenly caught up in dealing with a murder of one of its citizens — not a particularly well-liked one at that. Which makes it all the more intriguing because the list of suspects becomes very long. This tantalizing tale unfolds with twists and turns to find out whodunit to Mr. Bartholomew Fynche, the murdered shopkeeper.

Fear grips the community as the investigation slowly progresses. Everyone is interviewed; everyone is suspect! From his housekeeper to Lady Armstrong and her household staff. Or could it be the shy librarian new in town? Or the defiant retired army major and his ladyfriend, the post mistress? Or perhaps the weird sisters who live on the edge of town? Then there is the couple who own the local inn and pub, along with the two Americans who are staying there? Even the vicar and his wife fall under the gloom of suspicion.

Uncertainty, wariness, and terror reign as neighbors watch neighbors to discover the evil that permeates their upturned lives. No one feels safe in this charming little village. Who is the murderer? And why was this strange uncivil man dispatched in such a seemingly civil community?

A murder mystery that will keep you reading until you learn the details, uncovered by Police Inspector Stanley Burgess and his two amateur detectives, Sir Victor Hazlitt and Beresford Brandon. The three sift methodically through the Alibis and life stories of the suspects until they uncover…

You are challenged to discover the culprit before the last few pages. And no fair looking ahead — it’s the journey that proves the most enticing.

When I was first offered the opportunity to read and, perhaps, review Murder in Little Shendon, I had never heard of the book, although it came out two years ago, or of the author but I’m drawn to English village mysteries so I thought I’d give it a go and I’m glad I did.

The premise of a village police inspector tackling a murder case is, of course, not new but Ms. Richardson added in two elements that aren’t so common. The murdered man has a connection from the past to MI5, which is certainly not typical of the usual village murder victim, and that leads Inspector Burgess to enlist the aid of Sir Victor Hazlitt and his sidekick (his Watson, if you will), stage actor Beresford Brandon. Sir Victor was active in MI5 and had known the victim, thus the request from Stanley Burgess, and he invites Berry to go along because of his side interest in criminology. The next morning, off they go for a 10-day sojourn in Little Shendon and an adventurous patch of sleuthing with more than one murder and a multitude of suspects and possible motives.

There were a few noticeable construction flaws in this book and the pace is leisurely, almost too much so at times but, on the whole, I spent a very pleasant few hours with this trio trying to get to the bottom of this crime and the village itself was a step back in time. Sir Victor and Berry return in 2016’s Act One, Scene One…Murder and I’m going to make time to check it out.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2017.