Friday, September 23, 2016

Stalking Ground by Margaret Mizushima

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Stalking Ground
by Margaret Mizushima


ISBN-13: 9781629538341
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
When Deputy Ken Brody's sweetheart goes missing in the mountains outside Timber Creek, Mattie Cobb and her K-9 partner Robo are called to search. But it's mid-October and a dark snow storm is brewing over the high country. And they're already too late. By the time they find her body, the storm has broken and the snow is coming down hard.

While Brody hikes down to bring back the forensics team and veterinarian Cole Walker gathers supplies to protect them from the storm, Mattie and Robo find themselves alone, guarding the gravesite overnight in the dead of the early winter. As their investigation develops, Mattie, Robo, Brody, and Cole find themselves in the middle of the killer's stalking ground--where the hunters could become the hunted.


My Review:
Stalking Ground is a detective mystery/suspense novel. It's the second in a series. You can follow this book without reading the previous one, and this book didn't spoil the previous mystery. However, I'd recommend reading them in order as the previous novel was also well-written and you'll probably understand the main characters better if you do.

I really enjoy the characters in this series. They have depth and complexity. Violent deaths have a realistic impact on them. I liked how Cole's daughters contributed both to the problem (as in, they didn't always cooperate) and the solution (some comments they made). It's fun to see how Mattie and Robo are growing in their bond, and I appreciate that the author did research to make the vet and K9 scenes accurate.

Much of the book was suspense--will we find this person in time? will the cougar attack? The murder investigation was interesting and kept me slightly uncertain, but whodunit is unlikely to surprise the reader.

There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting and 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.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

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The Secrets of Wishtide
by Kate Saunders


ISBN-13: 9781632864512
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon and makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator. Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her intelligence, discretion, and immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow.

When Frederick brings her a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family's new governess. But the seemingly simple case--looking into young Charles Calderstone's “inappropriate” love interest--soon takes a rather unpleasant turn as blackmail demands show up and so do murders. As the family's secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.


My Review:
The Secrets of Wishtide is a mystery set in 1850 in England. Though Laetitia has had previous cases, this is the first book in the series. The backgrounds of several characters reminded me of novels I've read that were written in the mid-1800s. It turns out that these backgrounds were based off of a Charles Dickens novel, which helps give this novel an authentic feel.

Laetitia had some progressive views about fallen women due to being a romantic at heart, but she reflected the current (1850 England) culture in other views. I liked that she tried to be non-judgmental and show Christian compassion. I enjoyed the humorous interactions between the characters, especially between her and her brother.

At times the book felt more like a historical drama than a mystery, but Laetitia did uncover clues and stick with the investigation until the full truth came out. I wasn't surprised by whodunit, but the answer wasn't necessarily obvious.

There were no sex scenes. There was occasional use of 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.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Lady Unrivaled by Roseanna M. White

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A Lady Unrivaled
by Roseanna M. White


ISBN-13: 9780764213526
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Lady Ella Myerston can always find a reason to smile--even if it's just in hope that tomorrow will be better than today. All her life everyone has tried to protect her from the realities of the world, but Ella knows very well the danger that has haunted her brother and their friend, and she won't wait for it to strike again. She intends to take action . . . and if that happens to involve an adventurous trip to the Cotswolds, then so much the better.

Lord Cayton has already broken two hearts, including that of his first wife, who died before he could convince himself to love her. Now he's determined to live a better life. But that proves complicated when old friends arrive on the scene and try to threaten him into a life of crime. He does his best to remove the intriguing Lady Ella from danger. How else can he redeem himself, though, but by saving her--and his daughter--from those dangerous people who seem ready to destroy them all?


My Review:
A Lady Unrivaled is a Christian romance set in 1913 in England. This book is the third in a series. You can understand what's going on without reading the previous books, but you might want to read these books in order. There's an over-arching storyline involving red diamonds, so we're told many details from the previous two books and this spoils the suspense of those books.

All of the characters felt well-developed, with complex motives and histories. I really enjoyed Ella. She's an optimist and generally met life with laughter. Lord Cayton needed this laughter in his life. Ella was kind and offered grace to those who had wronged her friends in the past, and this made a difference in how things played out in the end. The suspense came from physical danger due to the bad guys desperately wanting the red diamonds. Historical details provided a backdrop for the story.

Lady Ella demonstrated her Christian faith in how she treated others and offered them second chances. Lord Cayton struggled to accept that God really had forgiven him for his past. There was no sex or 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.

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Methods of Sergeant Cluff by Gil North

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The Methods of Sergeant Cluff
by Gil North


ISBN-13: 9781464206672
Paperback: 158 pages
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
It is a wet and windy night in the town of Gunnarshaw, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. The body of young Jane Trundle, assistant in the chemist s shop, is discovered lying face down on the cobblestones. Her purse is full of money.

Sergeant Caleb Cluff is not a man of many words, nor does he play by the rules. He may exasperate his superiors, but he's the only CID man in the division. The case is his. As Cluff investigates, he refuses to except the obvious suspect and sets his sights on a respected member of the town.


My Review:
The Methods of Sergeant Cluff is a detective novel that was originally published in the early 1960s and is set in England. The writing tended to be vague and dreamy. Characters would have whole conversations using "he" or "she" without defining who they meant. They also found themselves in the middle of action without being conscious of starting it. A lot of time was spent describing the moody setting.

There were enough clues that you can guess whodunit, but the story wasn't about finding evidence. Cluff doesn't like to talk and did as little interviewing as possible. When he had to visit suspects, he'd moodily survey and pass judgment on the occupants. (And if there was something wrong in a relationship, he blamed the woman. One woman's main faults seemed to be that she kept a neat house and didn't worship her husband as god.)

Cluff decided on a suspect despite a lack of evidence. He didn't bother to get evidence. Instead, he stalked the suspect until he went crazy and another death occurred. I didn't like that Cluff "solved" the case by both provoking and allowing another murder. There were no sex scenes. There was one use of swearing.


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, September 4, 2016

No Farm, No Foul by Peg Cochran

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No Farm, No Foul
by Peg Cochran


ISBN-13: 9780425282021
Mass Market Paperback:
304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
On her blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, Shelby McDonald is growing her audience as she posts recipes, gardening tips, and her experiences raising two kids and running Love Blossom Farm in the small western Michigan town of Lovett.

Working the farm is demanding but peaceful—until that peace is shattered when the minister’s wife is murdered on Shelby’s property during a fund-raiser for a local church. Out of curiosity and because the police seem to be making no headway, Shelby decides to figure out the murderer herself.


My Review:
No Farm, No Foul is a cozy mystery. Shelby is a widowed organic farmer with three love interests and two kids that tend to get into trouble (climbing trees for the boy, with boys for the girl). Shelby didn't need to interrogate people as people liked to gossip with or confide in her.

There were enough clues to guess whodunit. One "clue" was obviously meant as a clue yet made no sense considering how the murder was done. There were a few other "huh?" points, like why did a cop shove his gun into his waistband instead of his holster? Anyway, whodunit didn't come as a surprise, but we get a long suspense scene at the end. Finally, some useful dogs!

Despite skirting the edge of several of my pet peeves, I did enjoy the story. The author developed the characters and gave them more complexity than is usually found in a cozy. There was no sex 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.


Friday, September 2, 2016

The Sculthorpe Murder by Karen Charlton

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The Sculthorpe Murder
by Karen Charlton


ISBN-13: 9781503938243
Paperback: 306 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Released: August 30, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Northamptonshire, 1810: As a new canal network snakes across the landscape, a vicious mob stakes its claim to the county. Every local constable is out on the hunt for the ruthless Panther Gang. When an elderly man is robbed and murdered in sleepy Middleton, the beleaguered magistrates send for help from London’s Bow Street Police Office.

Detective Stephen Lavender and Constable Ned Woods soon discover there’s more to William Sculthorpe’s demise than meets the eye. Mystery surrounds the old man and his family, and the stench of revenge hangs heavy in the air. Are the Panther Gang really responsible or is something more sinister afoot? As Lavender delves further into long-hidden secrets, Woods has demons of his own to contend with: ghosts from his past that stalk him through the investigation.

Uncovering decades of simmering hatred and deceit, Lavender and Woods must use all their wit and cunning to solve this evil crime.


My Review:
The Sculthorpe Murder is a mystery novel set in March 1810 in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire in England. It's the third book in a series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this story did not spoil any previous whodunits.

The characters were engaging and had realistic reactions to events. Constable Wood's past is developed in this story. The vivid historical and setting details made the story feel unique to that time and place. There were a few details that aren't correct for the period (like the word "Detective" wasn't invented for another thirty or so years), but I was impressed overall.

It was a clue-based mystery with plenty of secrets to be uncovered. I guessed much of what was going on before Lavender explained things. However, I got the feeling from the questions he asked and things he looked for that he had the same suspicions when I did.

There was a fair amount of bad language. There were no sex scenes (though descriptions of a barmaid got mildly sexually graphic when she interacted with patrons). 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.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Catching Heat by Janice Cantore

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Catching Heat
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781414396705
Trade Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Released: Sept. 1, 2016

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Twenty-seven years after the deaths of Detective Abby Hart's parents, she's desperate to find the proof that will put the mastermind--the governor's wife--behind bars. When she joins a newly formed task force and teams up with PI Luke Murphy, Abby is sent to San Luis Obispo to work the cold case of a murdered college student. Realizing their investigation will bring them near the town where Alyssa Rollins grew up, Abby decides to do a little digging of her own into the Triple Seven fire.


My Review:
Catching Heat is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third book in a series, and it continues the story of the previous books. I'd recommend reading these books in order (starting with "Drawing Fire"). There was a lot of suspense in this novel due to physical danger threatening from several directions. It's more a suspense novel than detective work.

Luke's behavior baffled me in this book. Luke and Abby were attracted to each other due to their mutual loss and interest in finding justice regarding the Triple Seven fire despite everyone telling them to let it go. Abby uncovered a lead that wasn't clear-cut but shouldn't be dangerous to follow up on if she's wrong. In the past, Luke would have supported Abby, but now he's the one telling her to let go. Why? Because a victim in one of their cases is completely obsessed to the exclusion of all else. Abby asked other people to partner her because Luke wasn't supporting her, and Luke concluded this means she's obsessed and tells her so. I can accept him worrying about it, but so quickly changing sides to become one of her nay-sayers? So the characters didn't quite grab me in this book, but the suspense was plenty exciting.

The main characters found comfort in the thought that even if we don't have all the answers about what happened in the past, God knows. There was no sex. The author used "he cursed" to indicate bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting series.


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.