Book Review: Criminal Misdeeds by Randee Green

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Title: Criminal Misdeeds
Series: A Carrie Shatner Mystery #1
Author: Randee Green
Publisher: Coffeetown Press
Publication Date: July 1, 2018
Genres: Mystery, Police Procedural

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Purchase Links:
Barnes & Noble // Kobo // Amazon // Indiebound

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Criminal Misdeeds
A Carrie Shatner Mystery #1
Randee Green
Coffeetown Press, July 2018
ISBN 978-1-60381-709-7
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

As far back as the Shatners can be traced, they have been breaking the law and running from it. It’s a family tradition. Now Carrie Shatner is a detective and crime-scene technician with the Wyatt County Sheriff’s Department in Eastern Texas. Over the years, she has tried to distance herself from her family’s criminal activities. But that is easier said than done.

The Shatner family is celebrating New Year’s Eve at the Wyatt County Fairgrounds in their usual style: illegal fireworks, homemade moonshine, and a near brawl. After shutting down the party, Carrie does a final sweep of the fairgrounds and finds a dead body in a dumpster.

Good news: the dead man is not a Shatner. Bad news: the Shatners are now suspects in a homicide investigation. Soon the fairgrounds are overrun with law enforcement, including Sergeant Jerrod Hardy, a Texas Ranger. The victim is Kyle Vance, Carrie’s ex-boyfriend and a member of the Palmer family, who have been feuding with the Shatners since the Civil War.

Despite serious misgivings, Hardy allows Carrie to help him investigate. He knows she physically couldn’t have beaten Vance to death, but he wonders if she is covering for a family member.

There’s something about backcountry Texas crime fiction that grabs me by the throat and won’t let go but I don’t really know what it is. Some of my affection is because it’s almost always rural and it’s Southern; granted “Southern” is not the same in Texas as it is in Virginia or Alabama but Texas still falls into the category. Then there’s the Wild West romantic aspect that is always there in the background so, all in all, I’m a patsy for Texas law enforcement 😉

Carrie is a pure delight, in her profession and also as part of a riproaring criminal family and, while I know it’s wrong of her to protect them I also understand it and can totally empathize with her. I also couldn’t help laughing at this eccentric, kinda weird family that Carrie has to cope with, all the while loving them just because they are family. She sort of escaped their clutches but not really.

When murder occurs at a Shatner clan party, Carrie’s colleagues don’t really trust her to get involved, hardly a surprise, but the arrival of Texas Ranger Jerrod Hardy changes everything, especially when he grudgingly lets her help out. It’s a wonder he does, given that the dead man is Carrie’s ex and a member of the Palmer clan that’s the Shatners’ mortal enemies.

I really did have fun with this book and, although I thought the actual mystery was a little lightweight, it’s the journey to get to the answers that really matters. Carrie and Hardy could very well grow into one of my favorite law enforcement couples/partners so, Ms. Green, please hurry up with the next book!

An Excerpt from Criminal Misdeeds

CHAPTER ONE

I come from a long line of criminals.

Moonshiners, rumrunners, and drug dealers. Horse thieves and carjackers. Bank robbers, burglars, pickpockets, and con artists. And then there has been the occasional killer. You name it, whether it’s a felony or a misdemeanor, somewhere along the line a member of my family has committed it.

As far back as the Shatner family could be traced – from southern England to the mountains of western North Carolina, and now to the Piney Woods of East Texas – we had been breaking the law. And running from it, too.

It was a family tradition.

You see, the Shatners have never swum in the baby pool of life. We’ve always been out in the deep end, and we jumped in headfirst.

As for me, every day I fight my genetic predisposition to break the law. Some days I’ve been more successful than others. You see, I can’t break the law when I’m the one who is supposed to be upholding it.

My name is Carrie Shatner, and for the last three-and-a-half years I have worked as a detective and crime scene technician for the Wyatt County Sheriff’s Department in East Texas. That would put my Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University to good use except there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of serious crime in Wyatt County. I mainly sat behind my desk all day, twiddling my thumbs, playing Sudoku, and keeping up with my various social media accounts.

While my official job was to process crime scenes and deal with all parts of criminal investigations, my unofficial job was to cover up my family’s illegal activities and keep them out of jail. I’d be the first to admit that what I have been doing wasn’t ethical. It was probably also criminal. I tried not to think about that too much. To be honest, I tried not to think about any of it too much. Most days I felt like quitting my job. Family obligation prevented that.

I’m not saying that all of the Shatners have been hardened criminals. Sure, most of the older ones were. But at least some of the younger ones shied away from the family business and seemed to be sticking to the straight and narrow. And they were the reason why I do what I do. Yes, I clean up the crimes of the guilty. But I do it to protect the innocent.

These days, the laws my various family members break have been fairly minor ones. Okay, some were still kind of major. But it was nothing compared to what we used to engage in. I mean, I’m pretty sure we were no longer involved in contract killing or organized crime.

What I did know was that my great-uncles had a moonshine still out in the woods and a marijuana crop concealed in a bunch of old Cold War bomb shelters. Every time I caught one of my family members selling the homebrew or the pot, they would promise me it was the last time. I didn’t believe them. I didn’t arrest them either, because I knew it wouldn’t stop them. It would also infuriate the rest of the family. And, while tempting, that wasn’t a risk I was quite willing to take. At least not yet.

Occasionally, one of the younger Shatners would steal a car or deface some public property or get busted for underage drinking. The older Shatners were always getting nabbed for public indecency and public intoxication. Some of them were also heavily involved in insurance scams. And then there had been the occasional assault. But we hadn’t killed anyone – accidently or on purpose – in years. Or, if someone had, I didn’t know about it.

When you got down to it, the majority of the bad things that the Shatners have done were just plain dumb. And, as far as I knew, being stupid wasn’t illegal. We would have been in serious trouble otherwise.

I don’t want you to go into this thinking that all of the Shatners were bad people. Most of them have just been a little misguided.

At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

Until I found the body.

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About the Author

Randee Green’s passion for reading began in grade school with Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, as well as a master’s and an MFA in Creative Writing. When not writing, she’s usually reading, indulging in her passion for Texas country music, traveling, or hanging out with her favorite feline friend, Mr. Snookums G. Cat.

Catch Up With Randee Green On: randeegreen.com, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

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Book Reviews: Strong Light of Day by Jon Land and Lord of the Wings by Donna Andrews

Strong Light of DayStrong Light of Day
A Caitlin Strong Novel #7
Jon Land
Forge, October 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7653-3512-8
Hardcover

Author Jon Land, in the seventh adventure featuring Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong, once more takes the reader on a breathless thrill ride of a story. As is his method, Land ties Caitlin’s present day case to an operation her father began years ago. Strong Light of Day has its roots in the 1980s–the historical aspect more recent than most of the series, and the enemy, aside from a home-grown psychopath who just might scare you to death, are Russian.

Caitlin is drawn into the story when thirty high school students disappear while on a camping trip. One of the students is Luke Masters, the son of her lover, Cort Wesley Masters. At the same time, not far from the campers last position, a herd of cattle die, with only bones left to tell the tale.

Where are the kids? What happened to the cattle? Why are there dead fields? And why is billionaire oilman Calum Dane and his conglomerate buying the land up? This is the mystery Caitlin has to solve, and she’d better do it quickly because when the Russians join Dane and close in, time is about to run out.

This is a Caitlin Strong novel. Expect a mile-a-minute pace and a high body count. Not that the bad guys don’t deserve it. Expect Caitlin to get a lot of help from a recurring cast of characters, including Cort Wesley Masters, Captain Depper, and especially, Colonel Paz, a seemingly indestructible giant of a man who, through a sort of supernatural tie, has appointed himself her guardian. And thank goodness for that!

With the historical ties played down in this outing, I appreciate the short excerpts from Texas Ranger archives and some of the best researched non-fiction that Land always includes at the front of the chapters.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, August 2015.
Author of Three Seconds to Thunder.

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Lord of the WingsLord of the Wings
A Meg Langslow Mystery #19
Donna Andrews
Minotaur Books, August 2015
ISBN 978-1-250-04958-2
Hardcover

It’s Halloween in Caerphilly.  Meg, who heads the Goblin Patrol, AKA the Visitor Relations and Police Liaison Patrol, is mildly puzzled to hear that Dr. Smoot’s Haunted House has been burgled. What is there to steal?  She’s more upset when a fake body part turns up in her grandfather’s alligator exhibit during her six-year-old twins’ school visit.  But when two Goblin Patrollers find a real body, she goes into full investigative mode.  Is the body connected to her brother Rob’s latest computer game release? Or to one of the “treasures” in Dr. Smoot’s local history museum? Or to one of the many, many costumed tourists who have flocked into Caerphilly’s town-wide Halloween bash?

Strange occurrences abound, stranger friends and relatives dive in to help out (or not), and Meg copes with everything with her usual humor and competence.  Not even a horde of LARPers and the Rancid Dreads, a truly awful rock band, can get her down.

I’m so glad I got to review this book.  Despite other glowing reviews, I’d avoided the series because I have a thing about overbearing families.  I hate seeing a heroine pushed around. Boy, was I wrong.  Meg’s wildly eccentric family is a delight–to read about, anyway, and seeing Meg deal with their antics is enormously entertaining.  I rushed to the library for Murder with Peacocks and devoured it.  I’m just about done with We’ll Always Have Parrots now, and I have the next two right by my comfy-chair, ready to go.  Thank you, Donna Andrews, for writing such cheerful, funny, fascinating books.

I highly recommend Lord of the Wings.

Reviewed by Marilyn Nulman, September 2015.