Friday, May 26, 2017

Murder in the Bowery by Victoria Thompson

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Murder in the Bowery
by Victoria Thompson


ISBN-13: 9781101987117
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Frank Malloy's latest client is the well-dressed Will Bert. He's searching for his brother, a newsboy named Freddie, so he can share his new financial good fortune. Frank makes quick work of the case and locates Freddie, but a happy reunion between brothers is not in the cards.

When Will's name is mentioned, Freddie runs off only to be found dead a short time later. Suspicious, Frank tracks down Will who spins a tale of lust and deceit involving a young society woman, Estelle Longacre, also recently deceased. Frank can't be sure if Estelle's risky behavior and the company she kept was to blame, or if her own ruthless family had a hand in her death.

Frank will need Sarah Brandt's help to unearth the dark secrets of the wealthy Longacres and to discover if there is a connection between Estelle and Freddie s death. Together they must navigate a perilous underground web of treachery to find the truth."


My Review:
Murder in the Bowery is a historical mystery set in New York City in July of 1899 during the newsboy's strike. This is the twentieth book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous mysteries.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Frank, Gino, and Sarah asked good questions and followed up clues until they all fit together. The mystery involved a lot of twists. I'd say, "I think such-and-such is going on" and, yes, they'd discover that was true. But then new information came up, and I'd think "Maybe so-and-so is actually a better choice for whodunit." So I had an idea of where it was going, but I didn't guess whodunit until every clue was finally exposed.

Interesting historical details about the newsboy's strike and Bowery Street were woven into the story. The main characters were nice people and had realistic reactions to events. Even though I understood their reasoning for not pressing for justice through the normal channels, I was a little bothered that Sarah and Frank not just allowed (knowing what would happen) but essentially asked for what happened to whodunit.

There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting historical 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, May 21, 2017

A Purely Private Matter by Darcie Wilde

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A Purely Private Matter
by Darcie Wilde


ISBN-13: 9780425282380
Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Rosalind Thorne has slowly but assuredly gained a reputation as “a useful woman”—by helping respectable women out of some less-than-respectable predicaments.

Her latest endeavor involves Margaretta Seymore, who is with child. Her husband is receiving poisoned pen letters that imply that her condition is the result of an affair with the notorious actor Fletcher Cavendish. Margaretta asks Rosalind to find out who is behind the scurrilous letters. But before she can make any progress, Cavendish is found dead, stabbed through the heart.

Suddenly, Rosalind is plunged into the middle of one of the most sensational murder trials London has ever seen, and her client’s husband is the prime suspect. With the help of the charming Bow Street runner Adam Harkness, she must drop the curtain on this fatal drama before any more lives are ruined.


My Review:
A Purely Private Matter is a mystery set in 1817 in London, England. This is the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the previous mystery.

This was a clue-based puzzle mystery. Rosalind and Harkness carefully asked questions and collected information in their different ways. Rosalind was clever, but the mystery was complex and twisty. I was pretty certain of whodunit shortly after we met the character and only became more convinced as the case progressed. It turns out I wasn't quite correct, though whodunit is technically guessable and actually had a better motive than my guess.

The characters were interesting and complex. Though the romantic triangle was still there (the duke or the Bow Street runner?), the focus was on the mystery and on finding Rosalind's sister. I started rooting for the Duke, though, partly because people wouldn't be able to threaten to ruin Rosalind's reputation (and thus manipulate her) so easily. The historical details were woven into the story as part of the case, and the author clearly put research time into getting those details correct.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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, May 19, 2017

The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories by Ernest Bramah

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The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories
by Ernest Bramah


ISBN-13: 9780486814803
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Dover Publications
Released: May 17, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Sightless detective Max Carrados solved his first cases in Edwardian London, in the early days of the 20th century when the city was the beating heart of the vast British Empire. This collection contains the very best tales of the blind sleuth, 10 adventures that range from his first challenge, "The Coin of Dionysus," to mysteries set during the World War I era and the early 1920s.

Like Sherlock Holmes, Max Carrados debuted in The Strand magazine, and his stories rivaled those of the Baker Street detective in popularity. This collection offers an excellent introduction to the suave private investigator whose deductive skills are surpassed only by his perceptive powers, which enable him to hear a heartbeat from across the room.

Carrados' creator, Ernest Bramah, was one of the few authors in the early days of detective fiction who could combine physical and intellectual thrills with imagination and stylistic brilliance. Brimming with charm and humor, these vintage stories are utterly unique in the field of detective literature.


My Review:
The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories is a collection of 10 short mystery stories set in the early 20th century. These are clever, clue-based mysteries. The solutions aren't usually clear until Max explains it, though all the clues were available.

What makes Max Carrados unique is that he's blind, though he turns this into a strength rather than a weakness. He looks beyond the obvious and can perceive things that sighted people don't. He's also very well informed and so might consider a possibility that others wouldn't even know to consider. I enjoyed all of the stories, and I'd highly recommend this collection.

The included stories:
The Coin of Dionysius
The Knight's Cross Signal Problem
The Mystery of the Vanished Petition Crown
The Holloway Flat Tragedy
The Disappearance of Marie Severe
The Mystery of the Poisoned Dish of Mushrooms
The Ghost at Massingham Mansions
The Tragedy at Brookbend Cottage
The Last Exploit of Harry the Actor
The Ingenious Mr. Spinola


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, May 14, 2017

Murder Between the Lines by Radha Vatsal

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Murder Between the Lines
by Radha Vatsal


ISBN-13: 9781492638926
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Kitty is tasked with writing a story about Westfield Hall, a prestigious girls' boarding school. Tragedy strikes when a student named Elspeth is found frozen to death in Central Park. The doctors proclaim that the girl's sleepwalking was the cause, but Kitty isn't so sure. Determined to uncover the truth, Kitty investigates a more chilling scenario—a murder that may involve Elspeth's scientist father and a new invention by Thomas Edison.


My Review:
Murder Between the Lines is a suspense set in Dec. 1915 to Jan. 1916 in New York City. This is the second book in the series. You don't need to read the previous book to understand this one, and this one didn't spoil the previous mystery.

Kitty asked questions about Elspeth's death against her father's wishes. He pointed out that it was either an accident (so why dredge things up) or something dangerous. Kitty pushed on, anyway, and more people died--accidents and suicide or a dangerous plot? By the end, she wondered if it wouldn't have been better if she had left things alone.

The author wanted Kitty to witness some significant events that happened during this period, so she used these events in the story. The author often quoted the real newspaper coverage of the event. This made sense when Kitty's only source of information was the newspaper, but it felt a little jarring when she's at the actual event or the article went on for a while (with details not necessary to the story).

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


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.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears

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A Love So True
by Melissa Jagears


ISBN-13: 9780764217524
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Evelyn Wisely has a heart for the orphans of Teaville and works at a local mansion that rescues children out of the town's red-light district and gives them a place to live. But her desire to help isn't limited to orphans. The owner of the mansion, Nicholas Lowe, is willing to help her try to get the women working in prostitution out of the district as well--if she can gain the cooperation and support of local businessmen to go against the rest of the community.

David Kingsman has recently arrived in Teaville from Kansas City to help with one of his father's companies in town. While he plans on staying only long enough to prove his business merit to his father, he's shown interest in Evelyn's work and is intrigued enough by her to lend his support to her cause. They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David's dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them?


My Review:
A Love So True is a Christian romance set in 1908 in Kansas. It's the second book in a series, and you can understand this book without reading the previous one. This book spoiled some of what happened in the previous story, though not in a major way. While I enjoyed this story, I felt like the first book had a stronger story line.

Evelyn wanted to start a women's home in addition to running the orphanage, but she needed to get local support before Nicholas would finance it. I wondered how she thought she had the time to run the home since she was needed full time at the orphanage. Then again, this challenge seemed to exist more as a reason for Evelyn and David to spend time together than as the point of the story.

They were attracted to each other, but Evelyn pushed David away due to a shameful secret in her past. When writers spend most of the book only hinting at a character's motivating secret, it almost always turns out to be something that doesn't really stand in the way. And, yes, it's basically just her pride standing in the way of being free to love David. There were some issues that could have caused emotional conflict in their relationship (like where they would live, her ministries, etc.), yet these were resolved very easily.

The Christian element was Evelyn admitting her past rebellious act and accepting forgiveness and love. There were no sex scenes or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting 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, May 12, 2017

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

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Wings of the Wind
by Connilyn Cossette


ISBN-13: 9780764218224
Trade Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: May 2, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Alanah, a Canaanite, is no stranger to fighting and survival. When her family is killed in battle with the Hebrews, she disguises herself and sneaks onto the battlefield to avenge her family. The one thing she never counted on was surviving.

Tobiah, a Hebrew warrior, is shocked to find an unconscious, wounded woman among the Canaanite casualties. Compelled to bring her to a Hebrew healer back at their camp, he is soon confronted with a truth he can’t ignore: the only way to protect this enemy is to marry her.

Unused to being weak and vulnerable, Alanah submits to the marriage—for now. As she comes to know and respect Tobiah and his people, however, she begins to second-guess her plans of escape. But when her past has painfully unanticipated consequences, the tentative peace she’s found with Tobiah, the Hebrews, and Yahweh is shaken to the core. Can Alanah’s fierce heart and strength withstand the ensuing threats to her life and all she’s come to love?


My Review:
Wings of the Wind is biblical fiction (with a romance) set when the Israelites were at the end of their 40 years of wandering in the desert and ends after the attack on Jericho. This is the third book in the series, but it's basically a stand-alone novel. The author stayed true to the description of events given in the Bible. She wove interesting cultural details into the story, and we get a glimpse of what the land was like just before the Israelite incursion.

The characters acted realistically and were complex. Alanah is a Canaanite that has lost everything due to her family joining in a recent battle against the Israelites. She joins the next battle, only she's captured by Tobiah. He reluctantly marries Alanah following the Deut. 21:10-14 law to keep her safe while she heals. They come to respect and love each other, and they make a good pair (though obviously that took time and their relationship was rocky during the story).

Alanah saw the difference in how women and children were treated under God's law compared to the Canaanite culture. The Christian theme was how God was in control and working things out for good even when everything seemed to have gone wrong. There was no bad language or sex scenes. Overall, I'd highly recommend this 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.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman

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Fatal Mistake
by Susan Sleeman


ISBN-13: 9781455596461
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: FaithWords
Released: May 9, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGelley.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Tara Parrish is the only person ever to survive an attack by the Lone Wolf bomber. Scared and emotionally scarred by her near death, she goes into hiding with only one plan--to stay alive for another day. She knows he's coming after her, and if he finds her, he will finish what he started.

Agent Cal Riggins has had only one goal for the past six months--to save lives by ending the Lone Wolf's bombing spree. To succeed, he needs the help of Tara Parrish, the one person who can lead them to the bomber. Cal puts his all into finding Tara, but once he locates her, he realizes if he can find her, the Lone Wolf can, too. He must protect Tara at all costs, and they'll both need to resist the mutual attraction growing between them to focus on hunting down the bomber, because one wrong move could be fatal.


My Review:
Fatal Mistake is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The action started with the heroine stumbling across a serial bomber--someone she knows. She called the information in, but now the bomber is after her. Of course, the lead FBI agent falls in love with her while protecting her and hunting down the bad guys.

The suspense was high throughout the story as the bomber managed to repeatedly outmaneuver the FBI team. The romance was initially just physical attraction (and was recognized as such), but they drew closer as they worked together and got to know each other. I understood why they liked and respected each other (which is a good foundation for a relationship).

Both characters dealt with guilt. The hero felt guilt over his missions where people died, and he pushed hard for perfection and control. The heroine felt guilt over the people whom the bomber killed because they were associated with her. Both wondered why God allowed innocent people to die at the hand of evil people when He could stop it. Friends urged them to release their guilt and trust God more.

There was no sex. There was a minor amount of "he cursed" style references to bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this exciting suspense 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.