Book Reviews: Solving Cadence Moore by Gregory Sterner and 19 Souls by J.D. Allen @SternerGregory @aperturepress @JDAllenBooks @midnightinkbook

Solving Cadence Moore
Gregory Sterner
Aperture Press, November 2017
ISBN 978-0-9973020-8-0
Trade Paperback

An intense novel fashioned in a very creative and unusual way, Solving Cadence Moore struggles to match its creative vision. It is rooted in the modern radio podcast phenomenon. Charlie Marx, successful radio podcast creator and star has a fine and lasting career in a fairly volatile professional area. He’s progressed through solid talent and the support of a major broadcasting executive, but he wants more. He thinks he’s found a vehicle, a ten-year old mystery.

Young talented and striking-looking (cliché?) Candace Moore is at the beginning of her career as a star vocalist and song creator. When she disappears and no trace has ever been found of her, the mystery endures and grows. Marx believes he can solve the murder and he exaggerates his proof to his boss in order to gain permission to create a star series of podcasts.

Things begin to fall apart when production time is squeezed down and witnesses become reluctant. Marx endures long and tense confrontations with his boss, with members of his production team and with some witnesses he turned up.

The novel, frequently written as a radio script, is long, tedious at times and is shot full of disagreeable language, confrontation after confrontation, and little consideration for the reader. Nine chapters divide a 362-page story. Long involved arguments detailing strengths and weaknesses of character’s positions, often with little or no descriptive language tend to give the narrative a slow and steady progression. Readers will assume, perhaps correctly, that the profession of radio broadcasting, especially when focused on the dramatization of true events, is replete with the kind of competition and repetitive tests of wills fostered by strongly opinionated, testosterone supplied males.

In sum an excellent idea burdened by a limited exposition, resulting in relief that the novel is done, rather than disappointment for the final period.

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

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

19 Souls
A Sin City Investigation #1
J.D. Allen
Midnight Ink Books, February 2018
ISBN 978-0-7387-5403-1
Trade Paperback

An interesting if troublesome book about the search for a deteriorating psychopathic serial killer. The story has several things going for it, an unusual killer, a raft of police and FBI characters, and at least three sort-of-legal private searchers. The least likeable of the three, a shambling, bumbling private investigator named Jim Bean works alone, except when he needs help, which is frequently. The other two, O, a bounty-hunter, and Bean’s obligatory cyber/research expert add a little to the narrative, although O adds the least.

The setup is excellent and would have been even better if Bean wasn’t portrayed as so constantly second-guessing himself. A woman hires him to find her long-lost brother. She promptly drugs and seduces Bean which interferes with Bean’s thoughts and emotions, often at crucial junctures.

The story takes place in Texas, Nevada, California and Indiana. As the target descends gradually, logically, and cleverly into madness, the tension rises and more bodies litter the ground. Largely well-written and edited there are a few point-of-view shifts that are momentarily confusing but taking it all together, the novel is worth its price.

Reviewed by Carl Brookins, March 2019.
http://www.carlbrookins.com http://agora2.blogspot.com
Traces, Grand Lac, Reunion, Red Sky.

Book Review: The Lost Are the Last to Die by Larry D. Sweazy @larrydsweazy @FiveStarCengage

The Lost Are the Last to Die
A Sonny Burton Novel #2
Larry D. Sweazy
Five Star Publishing, November2019
ISBN: 978-1-4328-5723-3
Hardcover

Multiple award-winning author Larry Sweazy couldn’t write a bad book if he tried. This one lives up to his reputation, with the continuing story of former Texas Ranger Sonny Burton.

Sonny, who lost his right arm in a shoot-out with Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows is still dealing with his clumsy prosthesis when he receives a message that his help is needed. A convict has escaped from Huntsville prison and, having taken the warden’s wife hostage, is on the run.

It was Sonny who put this particular convict in prison, after run-ins with him from the time Billy Bunson was a boy. Sonny had tried to talk with the boy then, but in the years since, Billy has turned into a cold-blooded killer. It begins to look like the reason for Billy’s escape is not so much just getting out of prison and acquiring a large ransom for Dolly, the warden’s wife, but also to draw Sonny in so he can kill him.

Sonny’s son Jesse, following in his father’s footsteps, is also a Texas Ranger, called in to aid in the hunt and for the first time, they work together. Then Billy goes after the landlady of the boarding house where Sonny is staying, and it’s finally time to bring Billy’s death spiral to an end.

The reader gets to see beyond superficial motivation as to why Billy is a killer, and why Sonny wants to help him, in a story that ranges in time from May, 1911, to October, 1934. The historical details of the book are riveting; the action enthralling. While not exactly a mystery, it is an excellent story of criminals and crime fighters and why they do what they do.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, March 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 Review: A Case for the Yarn Maker by Candace Havens @CandaceHavens @TulePublishing

 

************
************
Title: A Case For the Yarn Maker
Series: The Ainsley McGregor Series, Book 2
Author: Candace Havens
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Publication Date: April 15, 2020
Genre: Cozy Mystery
************
************
A Case for the Yarn Maker
The Ainsley McGregor Series #2
Candace Havens
Tule Publishing, April 2020
ISBN 978-1-951786-97-7
Trade Paperback
From the publisher—
***
Spin a yarn…at your own risk.
***
Everyone at Bless Your Art in Sweet River, Texas, is excited about the Yarn Goddess (yes, that’s her real name) coming to town. Ainsley McGregor has set up a special event at the local community center, but when old Mrs. Whedon doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Goddess about using quality yarn, a fight breaks out. Who knew the octogenarian had ninja moves like that?
***
It’s all fun and games until George Clooney, Ainsley’s Great Dane, finds Ms. Yarn’s dead body in a booth at Bless Your Art. Now the prime suspect is Mrs. Whedon, and while she’s not the easiest woman to get along with, there’s no way she’s the killer. At least, Ainsley doesn’t think so. As this yarn unravels, Ainsley and her quirky friends learn some interesting things about the case and the Goddess’s checkered past. But there’s a killer on the loose, and George may be the only thing protecting Ainsley from certain death.
************
************
It’s common these days, if not required, to have an animal of some sort in a cozy series and said animal (or more) has varying levels of participation in solving whatever crime may have occurred. In other series, the animal is just a pleasant part of the storyline, a member of the family. The third kind is the animal who brings comic relief to the tale and I’m always interested to find out what kind of animal character I’m going to see in a series that’s new to me, like this one. Obviously, the animal isn’t the most important factor but, to me, it’s an appealing part of whatever is going on.
***
Here we have George Clooney, a Great Dane whose self-appointed mission is to protect his mom, Ainsley, and he does a fine job of it. Sweet River, Texas, should be a completely peaceful little town, practically crime-free, but that’s not exactly the norm in Sweet River. Ainsley has already been involved in one murder investigation—much to the dismay of her brother, Greg, the local sheriff—and, now, here we go again. There’s no doubt that the elderly Mrs. Whedon had “words” with the victim but did she disagree with the woman deeply enough to kill her?
***
Because Ainsley, a part-time professor, runs an artisan market, there are plenty of players in the story, any one of whom could be hiding something and, since she knows them all, Ainsley feels she simply must look into things. Call it snooping if you will but both Ainsley and George are pretty good at sniffing out clues and they’re not alone; many of the market vendors and townspeople pitch in here and there.
***
A Case for the Yarn Maker is a fun tale and I enjoyed all the characters and their interactions. Yes, George Clooney steals the show more than once and he’s downright lovable but, then, what Great Dane isn’t? I’m going to have to get a copy of the first book to tide me over while I wait for the next one.
***
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2020.

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

************
************
A Case For the Winemaker
Ainsley McGregor Book 1
The closer she gets to the truth, the more she finds herself drowning in trouble.
***
It’s an exciting time in Sweet River, Texas, and the whole town’s talking. Maybe, a little too much. Former English professor Ainsley McGregor has gambled everything on her new business: Bless Your Art, an artisan market where local artists sell their wares and teach classes.
***
The bright, white space is filled to the brim with colorful art, yarn, jewelry, pet treats, antiques and even a few medieval weapons. Oh, and there are wine tastings. Everything’s better with wine. Ainsley is surprised by how well things are going–right up until the moment her Great Dane finds a dead body. With her friend accused of the murder, it’s up to Ainsley to find the real killer.
***
As the suspect list grows longer, Ainsley has her work cut out for her. The task is made more difficult by the fact her brother, the sheriff, doesn’t seem to want her help. If she doesn’t wrap up the case soon, she might be the next wine, um, one to die.
************
************
Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards and National Readers Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.
***
************
************

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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

Giveaway

$50 Amazon

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Book Review: A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary by Terry Shames @TerryShames @SeventhStBooks

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary
A Samuel Craddock Mystery #8
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-63388-490-8
Trade Paperback

This is the eighth book in the series with Chief Samuel Craddock.  Chief Craddock lives in the small town of Jarrett Creek, a rural community where, for the most part, the residents all know each other.  Recently, Samuel has noticed that his friend and neighbour, Loretta Singletary, has changed her hairstyle, has been wearing new clothes, and he’s more than a bit surprised to learn she’s signed onto an online Dating site.

The next day Samuel still hasn’t seen his friend and he’s beginning to worry.  He talks to several of her friends but no one has seen Loretta.  That’s when he decides to call her son. But he hasn’t seen her either. And when someone mentions they’d read of women being duped out of money, or worse,  by men they met on a dating site, Samuel decides it’s time to open an investigation.

When a woman’s body is found on a road leading to a nearby town, a woman who had also recently joined the same Dating site, Samuel is alarmed and the search for Loretta begins in earnest.  But unaccustomed with the internet Samuel quickly grows frustrated with his efforts, but he pushes on, worried that Loretta might suffer a similar fate.

Spending time with Chief Craddock is always a treat.  Check him out.

Respectfully submitted.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, November 2019.

Book Review: Paw of the Jungle by Diane Kelly @DianeKellyBooks @StMartinsPress

Continue reading

A Teeny Book Review Trio @dpeterfreund @ABRAMSbooks @martywingate @BerkleyMystery @atticalocke @mulhollandbooks

In the Hall with the Knife
A Clue Mystery #1
Diana Peterfreund
Harry N. Abrams, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-4197-3834-0
Hardcover

I whiled away many, many hours with friends years ago playing Clue, one of the best board games ever, and then I fell in love with the game-based movie starring Tim Curry, Christopher Lloyd, Eileen Brennan and the rest of a wonderful cast. A series of novelizations came along; a new movie is in pre-production and there was a movie or mini-series (hard to tell which) that bears no real resemblance and I wasn’t impressed. Now, there’s a new book and, I must say, I had a lot of fun with this.

Ms. Peterfreund has turned this into a teen cast and they all have names that fit the game, names such as Finn Plum and Scarlet Mistry. Rather than a gloomy mansion with guests who must discover a murderer before they’re all killed, we have a small group of students who are stranded in their forest-bound school with the headmaster who is soon found murdered. The game is on, not only to find the killer but to figure out who can be trusted and who has much to hide. Readers of all ages will really enjoy this.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Bodies in the Library
A First Edition Library Mystery #1
Marty Wingate
Berkley Prime Crime, October 2019
ISBN 978-1-984-80410-5
Hardcover

Hayley Burke recently started her dream job as curator of a book collection focused on the women authors of the Golden Age, authors such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. The late Lady Georgiana Fowling’s personal assistant and now permanent The First Edition Society secretary, Glynis Woolgar, views Hailey with suspicion but she hasn’t figured out the curator’s big secret yet—while Hayley has experience with libraries and literature, she knows next to nothing about the Golden Age or, in fact, mysteries and detectives. The two women do NOT see eye to eye on how Hayley is running things, including hosting a fan fiction writing group in the library, and things certainly don’t get better when a body is found in their own locked room mystery. To get to the answers she needs before her position as curator implodes, Hayley reads her first mystery, The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie, and is soon assisting the police with their investigation, whether they want her help or not.

Marty Wingate has been one of my favorite traditional mystery authors for some time although I’ve been seriously remiss about writing reviews. With this new series, she has created an ambience of the very Golden Age mysteries the Society promotes but with a charming modern-day setting and the de rigueur sleuthing works really well. Kudos to the author for what looks to be a clever and appealing new series.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Heaven, My Home
A Highway 59 Mystery #2
Attica Locke
Mulholland Books, September 2019
ISBN 978-0-316-36340-2
Hardcover

Being a black Texas Ranger comes with its own set of problems, as you might expect, and Darren Mathews is indeed dealing with those issues as well as repercussions from his last case. On top of that, his own mother is blackmailing him, his marriage is strained and alcohol is getting the better of him. Investigating the disappearance of a young boy draws him back into the world of white supremacy when the Rangers think Darren is the best man to work with the local white sheriff because the boy, son of a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, was last seen in a black community.

Darren is confronted by racial prejudice from the white people in town, including the sheriff, but also believes that Leroy Page, an elderly black man who saw the child, is not cooperating with the hunt for the boy. Darren’s friend, Greg, a white FBI agent, shocks Darren when he posits that Leroy just might be guilty of a hate crime in reverse. Could he be right?

Several threads in this story reflect the racial stress that has been growing in this country but Ms. Locke has a deft way with words and creates a kind of tension we don’t often see. Getting to the resolution of this disappearance is rough but I couldn’t look away until I knew what really happened.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2019.

Book Review: A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary by Terry Shames

A Risky Undertaking for Loretta Singletary
A Samuel Craddock Mystery #8
Terry Shames
Seventh Street Books, April 2019
ISBN 978-1-63388-490-8
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

After using an online dating site for senior citizens, town favorite Loretta Singletary–maker of cinnamon rolls and arbiter of town gossip–goes missing. Chief Samuel Craddock’s old friend Loretta Singletary–a mainstay of the Jarrett Creek community–has undergone a transformation, with a new hairstyle and modern clothes. He thinks nothing of it until she disappears. Only then does he find out she has been meeting men through an online dating site for small-town participants. When a woman in the neighboring town of Bobtail turns up dead after meeting someone through the same dating site, Craddock becomes alarmed. Will Craddock be able to find Loretta before she suffers the same fate? Finding out what happened to Loretta forces him to investigate an online world he is unfamiliar with, and one which brings more than a few surprises.

It’s just another day in Jarrett Creek for Samuel Craddock when his good friend, Loretta Singletary, asks him to get involved in a church ladies’ issue, something he decidedly doesn’t want to do and he’s almost relieved when she has to leave to meet a friend. He does momentarily wonder why she seemed so skittish but police chief duties soon distract him. It isn’t until various people start realizing that they haven’t seen Loretta that he becomes not exactly alarmed but very curious.

Loretta is the essence of a settled, unremarkable woman so, when Samuel hears that she might be involved in online dating, he’s truly surprised. This is really out of character for her but what really disturbs him is that she has literally disappeared and, when he hears that a woman in a neighboring town is also missing, Samuel and his chief deputy, the energetic and opinionated Maria Trevino, begin to investigate in earnest. Following the few leads they develop soon brings them to the realization that Loretta could be in serious trouble and they don’t have much time to find her.

One thing I can always count on with a Samuel Craddock book is that, while typical police procedural action might be limited, Samuel has the mind and life experience that make him a thoughtful, intuitive investigator and he’s nearly always a step ahead of me. He notices things and he really hears what people say but, most of all, he recognizes that the unexpected is often the truth. He’s not perfect—modern social behavior sometimes baffles him and he can be reluctant to open up about himself—but he’s the kind of man I’d trust to have my back.

Samuel’s stories always focus on a particular issue and, this time, it’s the potential dangers of online dating, especially for older women…and men…who may be particularly vulnerable. Ms. Shames handles the topic quite nicely without  belaboring the point. To lighten the mood a bit, we’re also treated to the comings and goings of the townsfolk and the almost-feud over the annual goat rodeo.

This has been one of my favorite series since the very first book and I’m still just as entranced with Samuel Craddock and the denizens of Jarrett Creek. Once again, I stayed up all night and it was time well spent—who needs sleep when Terry Shames has a new book out?

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2019.