by Chris Collett
Published 9/29/17 by Joffe Books
①❷③④⑤ 2 of 5 stars
DI Tom Mariner investigates the death of investigative reporter Eddie Barham, an apparent suicide – except it’s not suicide. PC Tony Knox assists with the investigation. Witness to the death is Jamie, severely autistic, also sibling to Anna and the deceased. Anna Barham, sister of the victim, takes on the care of Jamie while trying to find why her brother was murdered.
Overall impression: The premise drew me in, and I enjoyed the twists and turns as the investigation progressed. The pace increases dramatically toward the conclusion.
What I like:
- The premise: the only one who could say what happened…can’t say what happened.
- The Brocken Spectre (you’ll have to read the book to see how it applies).
- Snappy observations are sprinkled through the book. My favorite is when Anna first meets DI Mariner, whose recent nose injury makes his speech sound a bit thick, and “Anna had to fight a bizarre urge to pinch her nose and respond in the same way.”
- Good opening sentence: the who and the what are identified, but not the back story which would have bogged down the opening.
- Short chapters. New info, red herrings, changes of perspective are all moved along very well in chapters that are quickly read. Also, the chapter endings are good: they made me want to turn the page right away and get to the next part.
What I don’t like:
- DI Mariner, Anna Barham, PC Knox
- Is this story a treatise on autism and medication, or a mystery? Difficult to tell. It’s labeled mystery.
- DI Mariner jumps to conclusions. How does a newspaper story that is “personal” to its author bend itself in Mariner’s mind to be about “personal services”?
- The story reads like it was hastily abridged: answers are sometimes announced before the evidence is introduced.
- Anna’s brother Eddie took care of Jamie for years. When Anna assumes care of Jamie, she starts from scratch learning his favorite foods, etc. Why didn’t she just check Eddie’s cupboards to see what he stocked for Jamie?
- Too much detail that doesn’t relate to the story. While the detail does establish the characters’ experience and mindset, the reader doesn’t need that much detail to get the picture.
Thank you to Joffe Books and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
By Joe Ide
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Fiction
Copyright October 2016 by Mulholland Books
Atone for your errors and misdeeds. Use your brain and your talents to make of yourself something you like and respect, no matter what your circumstances are. Although the story takes a winding route to get there, the messages get through.
IQ (Isaiah Quintabe) takes on cases in high crime areas that would otherwise go unhandled: abuse of children, kidnapping, etc. He is intelligent, quiet, thoughtful, perceptive…a likeable protagonist. Some of his clients are less likeable – mostly the ones who have the money to pay the bills.
What I like:
The moniker IQ, short for Isaiah Quintabe.
What I don’t like:
The dialogue is less than believable.
IQ makes for an interesting, unusual character, one with the potential to improve with each successive book if this becomes a series.
Thank you to Mulholland Books and NetGalley for an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
As the Crow Flies (DI Nick Dixon Book One) by Damien Boyd
Thomas & Mercer
Rating: * * *
Detective Inspector Nick Dixon suspects his former climbing partner’s death is not the accident it initially appears to be. Drawn into the investigation, he learns his friend had become involved in illegal activities with dangerous and unscrupulous associates. The body count rises as Dixon unravels the web of lies and cover-ups.
As the Crow Flies holds the interest and moves along quickly. The other investigations in the story – Dixon’s day job – are every bit as interesting as the climbing death investigation (perhaps more so). The ending plays out differently than I anticipated.
Thank you to Thomas & Mercer and NetGalley for the copy I received in exchange for a review.
Tenderloin by Ty Hutchinson
Published June 3, 2013 by Patchwork Press
Rating: * *
Abby Kane, FBI agent and former homicide detective, is dispatched to Colombia, South America to investigate the brutal murder of a DEA agent.
And that’s where it falls apart. Abby does not inspire confidence, and without believing in Abby the story doesn’t work. Since she is not familiar with Colombia or the drug cartels, it never makes sense to me that she is the agent sent to Colombia. Worse, when she arrives in Colombia she demonstrates poor professional judgment on a number of fronts.
I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a review.
The Boy in the Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol and Agnete Friis, narrated by Katherine Kellgren
Rating: * * * *
Desperation permeates this fascinating, tense thriller that races between Lithuania and Denmark, following the path of a little boy found in a suitcase in Copenhagen. Where does he come from, and how did he come to be in a suitcase in a train station?
Narrator Katherine Kellgren enhances the intensity of the presentation as she speeds up in tense moments and slows down as realization sets in. She ably presents accents for each of the multitude of characters of various ethnic and monetary backgrounds.
Every character in this book is desperate: the women desperately afraid and unhappy and frail, the men self-centered and short-sighted and insecure. I hung on every word of the narration, rather desperate myself to hear the resolution, while also hoping reality does not include this much everyday despair.
Dead Anyway by Chris Knopf, read by Donald Corren
Rating: * * * * *
Being dead allows a man to investigate his own murder.
This book kept me absolutely riveted. Each twist and turn was more fascinating than the last. Consider it a primer on fraud, intrigue, identity theft, and erasing oneself. To say more would spoil the story. I highly recommend this book.
Lucky Stiff (Lucky O’Toole Vegas Adventure Series #2) by Deborah Coonts, read by Renee Raudman
Rating: * * * *
We begin with the buzz of a tractor-trailer load of honeybees overturning on the Vegas Strip. Then the really bizarre things start happening!
Lucky, head of customer service at a glitzy Vegas casino/hotel, handily deals with the honeybee crisis, then moves on to save hunky P.I. Jeremy Whitlock from a murder rap when local bookmaker Numbers Neidermeyer is discovered in the shark tank.
Blessed with an abundance of eye-pleasing men in her life, Lucky has also earned the friendship, loyalty, and cooperation of a number of colorful characters including her cross-dressing (but only when on stage) boyfriend; flamboyant and effervescent mother, a brothel madam; a local mob boss; and The Big Boss at her own casino, who is currently dating her mother.
Renee Raudman’s narrative style and voice are uniquely suited to stories such as this: quirky, off-beat, over-the-top, full of backhanded wit. Few readers could bring this story to colorful life the way she can, exactly what I would have pictured were I reading the written word.
The Prostitutes’ Ball (Shane Scully series #10) by Stephen J. Cannell
Rating: * * * *
Shane Scully of the LAPD, lead detective on a triple homicide case at a posh estate, and his new movie-business-obsessed partner, Hitch, uncover details about another triple homicide that occurred at the same estate 25 years prior.
Despite the provocative title, what drew me to this book is the name Stephen J. Cannell. His name was a familiar sight on TV credits some years ago: he created/co-created The Rockford Files, 21 Jump Street and many other highly successful series.
This is a well-crafted, suspenseful story within a story. Really, it’s like a set of nesting dolls: open one set and find another nesting inside. Open that, find yet another inside. Every time I thought I had the plot figured out, it veered. Just when I was confident Scully was the guy wearing the white hat, he’d be faced with an ethical dilemma and I’d hold my breath and will him to make the right decision – only to realize all was not as it appeared and the whole situation was different than I thought. I had Hitch categorized in my mind, only to find he didn’t fit the categories into which I tried to squeeze him.
An engrossing tale encompassing murder, drugs, midlife crisis, greed, purpose and lack thereof, motivations personal and business, it unfolds like a 3-act play. I look forward to reading other books in the Shane Scully series.
Coincidence Detection, a Jane Wilkinson Mystery by Selaine Henriksen-Willis
Rating: * * * *
Jane Wilkinson, PI, would rather read than do almost anything else. When investigating, she uses whatever story she is currently reading as a personal sounding board to note what resonates with her, allowing her detection skills and her intuition to work together. When a character from the book pops into her head during an investigation, she makes note of it and explores the parallels between the character and the investigation, and why she is reading what she is reading into the book. Her intuition draws her to parts of the story which ultimately help her solve the case. “It works for her.”
I look forward to further books in the Jane Wilkinson series. (None published at this time, to my knowledge.)
Jailbird by Heather Huffman
Rating: * * * *
A young woman convicted of murdering a socially connected young man escapes from prison after 10 years behind bars and re-learns how to hope, dream, plan…live. She meets Charlie and his daughter, who help her define normal. She is reunited with relatives she hasn’t seen since her conviction. She soon learns that the family of the man she killed is close to finding her and returning her to prison. With the help of good friends and lawyer Charlie, she is able to evade capture.
Huffman writes about social justice issues, but writes them in a non-preachy, very readable style. This is the second of her books that I have read. It comes complete with the expected happily ever after, but the happiness doesn’t come without cost. Social injustices and attitudes are highlighted, but not dwelt upon ad nauseum. A little simplistic perhaps, but palatable for that very reason.