Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Dead Shall be Raised and The Murder of a Quack by George Bellairs

book cover
The Dead Shall be Raised
and
The Murder of a Quack
by George Bellairs


ISBN-13: 9781464207341
Paperback: 364 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Two classic cases featuring Detective Inspector Littlejohn.

In the winter of 1940, the Home Guard unearth a skeleton on the moor above the busy town of Hatterworth. Twenty-three years earlier, the body of a young engineer was found in the same spot, and the prime suspect was never found—but the second body is now identified as his. It's now clear that the true murderer is still at large.

* * *

Nathaniel Wall, the local quack doctor, is found hanging in his consulting room in the Norfolk village of Stalden—but this was not a suicide. Against the backdrop of a close-knit country village, an intriguing story of ambition, blackmail, fraud, false alibis and botanical trickery unravels.


My Review:
The Dead Shall be Raised and The Murder of a Quack are two mysteries that were originally published in the early 1940s. The first was set in 1940 at Christmas time and set in England. The second was set in 1942 in England.

The characters were described with a humorous touch, and the villagers and village life was described with more detail than most mysteries from this time period. The focus almost seemed more on the interesting characters than on creating a difficult mystery. The mysteries were clue-based and were interesting, but they weren't difficult for a reader to solve. In both cases, one person seemed a strong suspect from the start with a second character as a possibility. Inspector Littlejohn and the local police followed up on obvious leads and questioned people until he uncovered what happened.

There was no sex. There was some bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Death in St. Petersburg by Tasha Alexander

book cover
Death in St. Petersburg
by Tasha Alexander


ISBN-13: 9781250058287
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: Oct. 10, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
After the final curtain of Swan Lake, an animated crowd exits the Mariinsky theatre brimming with excitement from the night’s performance. But outside the scene is somber. A ballerina’s body lies face down in the snow, blood splattered like rose petals over the costume of the Swan Queen. The crowd is silenced by a single cry— “Nemetseva is dead!”

Amongst the theatergoers is Lady Emily, accompanying her dashing husband Colin in Russia on assignment from the Crown. But it soon becomes clear that Colin isn’t the only one with work to do. When the dead ballerina’s aristocratic lover comes begging for justice, Emily must apply her own set of skills to discover the rising star’s murderer. Her investigation takes her on a dance across the stage of Tsarist Russia, from the opulence of the Winter Palace, to the modest flats of ex-ballerinas and the locked attics of political radicals. A mysterious dancer in white follows closely behind, making waves through St. Petersburg with her surprise performances and trail of red scarves. Is it the sweet Katenka, Nemetseva’s childhood friend and favorite rival? The ghost of the murdered ├ętoile herself? Or, something even more sinister?


My Review:
Death in St. Petersburg is a mystery set in 1900 in St. Petersburg. It's the twelfth in a series. You can understand this book without reading the previous ones, and this book didn't spoil previous whodunits.

The author wove nice detail about the lives of ballet dancers and the political unrest in Russia into the story. The story switched between Emily investigating the death of a dancer in 1900 and events that happened to two dancers and their close friends in 1889 until the present time. Emily asked questions, followed up clues, and considered possible scenarios until she figured out what was going on and whodunit. She was intelligent, competent, and likable. The other characters were also interesting.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A Room With a Brew by Joyce Tremel

book cover
A Room With a Brew
by Joyce Tremel


ISBN-13: 9780425277713
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Back Cover:
It's Oktoberfest in Pittsburgh, and brewpub owner Maxine "Max" O'Hara is prepping for a busy month at the Allegheny Brew House. To create the perfect atmosphere for the boozy celebration, Max hires an oompah band. But when one of the members from the band turns up dead, it's up to Max to solve the murder before the festivities are ruined.

Adding to the brewing trouble, Candy, Max's friend, is acting suspicious... Secrets from her past are fermenting under the surface, and Max must uncover the truth to prove her friend's innocence. To make matters worse, Jake's snooty ex-fiancee shows up in town for an art gallery opening, and she'll be nothing but a barrel of trouble for Max.


My Review:
A Room With a Brew is a cozy mystery. It's the third book in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones. However, this book did spoil certain events and motives in the previous mysteries (though not specifically whodunit).

The heroine and her friends were generally nice people. Max made some bad assumptions while investigating but at least took some basic precautions when dealing with potentially dangerous people. While I was able to figure out most of the who and why of the mystery, there was one part I hadn't guessed.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Where We Belong by Lynn Austin

book cover
Where We Belong
by Lynn Austin


ISBN-13: 9780764217623
Trade Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In the city of Chicago in the late 1800's, the rules for Victorian women are strict, their roles limited. But sisters Rebecca and Flora Hawes are not typical Victorian ladies. Their love of adventure and their desire to use their God-given talents has brought them to the Sinai Desert--and into a sandstorm.

Accompanied by Soren Petersen, their somber young butler, and Kate Rafferty, a street urchin who is learning to be their ladies' maid, the two women are on a quest to find an important biblical manuscript. As the journey becomes more dangerous and uncertain, the four travelers sift through memories of their past, recalling the events that shaped them and the circumstances that brought them to this time and place.


My Review:
Where We Belong is historical fiction set in 1860 to 1890 in Chicago and all over the world. The framing narrative occurred in 1890 as the four main characters try to reach the monastery at Mt. Sinai, but the weather and uncooperative guides are making that difficult. We get flashbacks to when Rebecca and Flora were young (in 1860) on up to the current situation to show how events brought them to undertake this quest. Near the end, we also get flashbacks for their two servants, Kate and Soren, so we see how meeting the sisters changed their lives.

The overall theme was living a life filled with meaning by finding God's purposes for your life. Rebecca loves ancient manuscripts and travel while her sister loves helping the poor and orphans. Throughout their narrative, the sisters do a lot of traveling to France, England, Egypt, etc. The characters were interesting and acted realistically. While independent for their day, the sisters still came across as women of their time (rather than modern feminists transported back in time). Historical details were woven into the story and prompted some exciting adventures.

The sisters trusted God with their safety and future, and Rebecca looked for ancient biblical manuscripts to help defend the accuracy of the Bible. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate

book cover
Verdict of Twelve
by Raymond Postgate


ISBN-13: 9781464207907
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
A woman is on trial for her life, accused of murder. The twelve members of the jury each carry their own secret burden of guilt and prejudice which could affect the outcome. In this extraordinary crime novel, we follow the trial through the eyes of the jurors as they hear the evidence and try to reach a unanimous verdict. Will they find the defendant guilty, or not guilty? And will the jurors' decision be the correct one?

Since its first publication in 1940, Verdict of Twelve has been widely hailed as a classic of British crime writing. This edition offers a new generation of readers the chance to find out why so many leading commentators have admired the novel for so long.


My Review:
Verdict of Twelve is a mystery set in England that was originally published in 1940. The first part of the story (39% of the book) told the background of the twelve jurors. This might sound boring or perhaps like too much information, but the author kept it concise, interesting, and later referred to the jurors in such a way that it was easy to remember their background and see how it influenced their view of the case.

Part two told what had happened in the case as it happened with enough information that you can guess whodunit. Except it's not a clear case. Anyone could have read that clipping, several people benefited from the death, etc. Though I was pretty sure I knew whodunit, I worried that we'd never know for sure. Part three was the court case, with any repetition of information done to show how the lawyers presented it and how the jurors reacted to it.

I was surprised by how well the story kept my interest from start to finish. We learn the outcome of the case and what actually happened as someone witnessed it but didn't admit it until the case was over. There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting, well-written mystery.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Christmas Amnesia by Laura Scott

book cover
Christmas Amnesia
by Laura Scott


ISBN-13: 9780373457342
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Oct. 3, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Assaulted a week before a high-profile drug trafficking trial, assistant district attorney Madison Callahan narrowly escapes death…but suffers amnesia. Now, when she can't recall the identity of her attacker, everyone is suspect—except the handsome policeman who saved her.

Officer Noah Sinclair will do anything to bring the mob-connected drug trafficker to justice, including providing personal protection to Madison—the sister of the partner he nearly got killed. But helping her regain her memory may end their unlikely alliance because once she remembers him, Noah might be the last man she'll want to rely on.

As the trial looms and with the assailant dead set on ensuring that Madison doesn't survive to see Christmas, it'll take everything Noah's got to keep Madison alive.


My Review:
Christmas Amnesia is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third in a series, but you can understand this book without reading the previous ones.

The suspense came from the bad guys constantly attacking the heroine and the chance that the drug trafficker would not be found guilty if the heroine didn't regain her memory. I was pleased that the amnesia only lasted long enough for Madison to get to know Noah and to start trusting men again. I enjoyed watching her in a more proactive mode--trying to save her case and stop the bad guys--after regaining her memory. I enjoyed the main characters.

The Christian element mainly involved some prayers at mealtimes and when in danger. They also talked about forgiving yourself and others. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this suspenseful novel.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Dangerous Year by Kes Trester

book cover
A Dangerous Year
by Kes Trester


ISBN-13: 9781620079072
Paperback: 255 pages
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Released: Sept. 26, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Riley Collins has grown up in some of the world’s most dangerous cities, learning political strategies from her ambassador dad and defensive skills from his security chief. The only thing they didn’t prepare her for: life as an American teenager.

After an incident forces her to leave her Pakistani home, Riley is recruited by the State Department to attend Harrington Academy, one of the most elite boarding schools in Connecticut. The catch: she must use her tactical skills to covertly keep an eye on Hayden Frasier, the daughter of a tech billionaire whose new code-breaking spyware has the international intelligence community in an uproar.

Disturbing signs begin to appear that Hayden might be in real danger and her protection much weaker than Riley was told.


My Review:
A Dangerous Year is a young adult novel. Much of the story was about Riley trying to fit in at school. From the title, I was expecting a story spanning a year focused on Riley protecting Hayden, but Riley only does this for a few weeks. Don't expect Riley to be a super-spy. She's given few instructions on how to do her new job, and she made common sense mistakes left and right. Things like getting very drunk or showing off that she can kick butt when she's supposed to be undercover. Her main weakness was an irresistible, hunky boy that Hayden warned her to stay away from. Riley's supposed to make friends with Hayden, but Riley forgot that every time she saw him.

Halfway into the book (and a couple weeks into the school term), Riley got a shipment of spy gear from home. She knew how to use it all (without instructions), and I was left confused: is she supposed to be a super-spy after all or are we supposed to be laughing at her mistakes? Well, she kept making basic mistakes and bad assumptions, didn't pass on information to her bosses like she was supposed to, put off looking into important clues, etc. I wasn't even surprised by the "surprise twists," but Riley sure was.

Don't get me wrong: it's a fun story and clearly meant to be humorous. But it's more teen high school drama than bodyguard detail. If you like that type of teen movie or TV show, then you'll probably enjoy the book. There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.