Friday, October 7, 2022

Concrete Evidence by DiAnn Mills

Book cover
Concrete Evidence
by DiAnn Mills


ISBN-13: 9781496451903
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: October 4th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
On the family's Brazos River Ranch in Texas, Avery Elliott helps run her grandfather's commercial construction business. Raised by Senator Elliott, Avery has never doubted her grandfather is the man of integrity and faith she's always believed him to be . . . until the day she finds him standing with a gun over the body of a dead man. To make matters worse, Avery's just discovered a billing discrepancy for materials supposedly purchased for construction of the Lago de Cobre Dam.

Desperate for answers, Avery contacts FBI Special Agent Marc Wilkins for help. As Marc works to identify the dead man Avery saw, threats toward Avery create a fresh sense of urgency to pinpoint why someone wants to silence her. With a hurricane approaching the Texas coast and the structural integrity of the Lago de Cobre Dam called into question, time is running out to get to the bottom of a sinister plot that could be endangering the lives of not only Avery and her loved ones but the entire community.


My Review:
Concrete Evidence is a Christian romantic suspense. Some parts of this story were unrealistic and others were never satisfactorily explained. So much about horses was wrong. I shook my head in disbelief when Avery, an expert rider, took her minimally trained, hard-to-control stallion out to round up livestock during a crisis instead of a steady, dependable horse. She then rode him to the rescue, shooting her gun from the back of a moving horse, using her non-dominate hand, and still hit a small, distant target. The horse didn't startle even though you have to train a horse to get used to a sudden, loud noise coming from right behind their head. Also, shooting from horseback is very different from and harder than standing still on the ground while shooting at an unmoving target.

While I enjoyed that the heroine rescued the hero, this came at the expense of the hero being incredibly dumb. He knew who the killer was. He saw that the person had a hidden gun. He didn't call/text for backup. He didn't put off the confrontation and arrange for a safe arrest later. No, he confronted the killer and immediately gave up when the killer pulled the gun, like he hadn't expected that response. Sigh.

On to the unexplained: The bad person wanted something and stated Avery knew what it was, but no one did. No one tried to figure it out, either. It turned out to be a digital file, yet the killer acted like there was only the one copy of it. And it's not like that was the only evidence against the killer. Also, the first video of the dam inspection wasn't fake, so how did no one notice the foundation was flawed or that it was the same video in the second inspection? Surely multiple people viewed the thing. Surely several different people carried out independent inspections of the foundation before the rest of the dam was built, etc.

Avery and Marc were both nice people, but they didn't share any interests and didn't always get along. For example, she left the ranch knowing she was going to a person who was a suspected killer. She delayed telling Marc because she didn't want to be stopped. She found evidence and called Marc. He told her to get away from the place until they got there. She refused just to be ornery. Um, to protect evidence that didn't need protecting. Marc wanted to wring her neck. Yet he kept thinking about what a good team they made? Well, about her lips, at least. It seemed like they wanted to get married so they could freely kiss (and more). Marc and Avery both just assumed that she'd go live with him and live at his paygrade even though she's rich. I'd have preferred they discussed it beyond a few sentences, summarized: 'You'll have to give up living wealthy!' which was met with 'No problem' rather than 'Why?'

The constant danger was suspenseful. The mystery was both complex and oddly easy to solve. (I was sure whodunit was a certain person. Avery was certain it wasn't him, even though all evidence pointed toward him, so I said, 'if not him, then that person.' I was right.) The characters were likable. So it's not a bad story, but more...exasperating. There was no sex or 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.


Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Body of Evidence by Irene Hannon

Book cover
Body of Evidence
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 9780800736194
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: October 4, 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Forensic pathologist Grace Reilly has seen her share of unusual deaths in rural Missouri. But when she begins to notice a curious pattern in autopsies of elderly residents whose demise appears to be natural, she takes her concerns to Sheriff Nate Cox. Other's are uncertain about the link Grace is seeing between the deaths and her suspicions of foul play, but she convinces Nate that her theory is credible. They join forces to investigate, and danger follows. Because exposing the truth could destroy several lives--including Grace's.


My Review:
Body of Evidence is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the third book in a series, but it works as a stand-alone novel. The main characters were engaging, complex people who reacted realistically to events. I cared about what happened to them. Grace noticed something unusual in the autopsy, linked several cases, and figured out how the murder was done while Nate interviewed suspects and followed up leads about the murderer's identity. Both had confidence in the other's abilities and skills. They admired each other's character as well as their looks. The suspense was created by the possibility that more older folks would die soon and the increasing threats toward Grace. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable, exciting 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, October 2, 2022

Secrets of the Nile by Tasha Alexander

Book cover
Secrets of the Nile
by Tasha Alexander


ISBN-13: 9781250819697
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Released: October 4th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Lord Bertram Deeley, a renowned amateur British collector of antiquities is entertaining his closest friends at a lavish cruise up the Nile to his home at Luxor when he suddenly collapses after offering a toast, a victim of the lethal poison cyanide. Who amongst this group of his nearest and dearest would want to kill their generous host: an archeologist whose dig Deeley was funding until he suddenly withdrew support? A powerful politician whose career was negatively impacted by Deeley? An aristocratic English spinster or her hired travelling companion? Or even the formidable Mrs. Hargreaves, Lady Emily’s mother-in-law, who may have spurned the advances of Lord Deeley when they were both younger? A key clue may lie with several ancient ushabtis, exquisite three-thousand-year-old sculptures that played a role in yet another murder in Ancient Egypt, a crime with a link to Lord Deeley’s death.


My Review:
Secrets of the Nile is a mystery set in 1904 in Egypt. There's also a secondary story going on in Ancient Egypt in the same area. This book is the 16th in a series. You can understand this book without reading the previous ones, and the story didn't spoil the mysteries or major events of the previous books.

The author alternated between the murder mystery and a story about a women who sculpted some of the amazing statues collected by the host of the party. The author wove setting and period details into the story. Emily asked questions, followed up on clues, and considered possible scenarios until she figured out what was going on. She was intelligent, likable, and reacted realistically to events. I started suspecting whodunit about halfway through as that person could have easily done everything. Further clues only confirmed my choice. So whodunit was guessable from the clues.

There were no sex scenes, though there was an attempted rape scene. There were a few uses of 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.


Friday, September 30, 2022

A Dark and Snowy Night by Sally Goldenbaum

Book cover
A Dark and Snowy Night
by Sally Goldenbaum


ISBN-13: 9781496729408
Hardback: 304 pages
Publisher: Kensington
Released: September 27th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Winter in Sea Harbor is a feast for the senses—crackling bonfires, the scent of snow in the salty air, carols ringing out on the village green. This year, the Seaside Knitters have a sackful of obligations in addition to their usual Christmas preparations. Cass, juggling the stresses of running her lobster fishery, has finally found a nanny for her active toddler. Molly Flanigan seems practically perfect in every way—until she suddenly disappears, taking Cass’s beloved rescue mutt with her.

Meanwhile, the holidays are kicking off in style at Mayor Beatrice Scaglia’s holiday party, where a well-dressed crowd admires the mayor’s sumptuous new home and the celebrity chef catering the event. An additional treat for Ben and Nell Endicott at the festive affair is reconnecting with a dear college friend, Oliver Bishop. But it’s not just reunions and the appetizers that are to-die-for. Before the party-goers can toast the beginning of Sea Harbor’s festive season, the chef—and young wife of the Endicott’s old Harvard friend—is found dead.

Izzy, Birdie, Nell, and Cass must remove suspicion from those they love and bring a murderer to justice—and keep Sea Harbor’s holiday magic from vanishing into the chill winter air.


My Review:
A Dark and Snowy Night is a cozy mystery. It's the 16th book in a series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this novel didn't spoil the whodunit of the previous novels. However, there were a lot of characters to keep track of if you just jump in at this point. The characters spent a lot of time at the beginning thinking about their relationships, so it took a bit to get into more active scenes.

The characters were interesting and acted in realistic ways. This was a clue-based puzzle mystery, though the author withheld the final clues from the reader (so the sleuths knew more than the reader) until the big reveal. However, I correctly guessed whodunit at about halfway through and then guessed why even before the characters were told that information, so this didn't really prevent whodunit from being guessable.

There were only a couple uses of bad language. There were no sex scenes. Overall, I'd recommend this 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.


Sunday, September 25, 2022

Millstone of Doubt by Erica Vetsch

Book cover
Millstone of Doubt
by Erica Vetsch


ISBN-13: 9780825447143
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Kregel
Released: September 20th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Regency London. Caught in the explosion of the Hammersmith Mill in London, Bow Street Runner Daniel Swann rushes to help any survivors only to find the mill's owner dead of a gunshot. While the owner's daughter, Agatha Montgomery, mourns his death, it seems there are more than a few people with motive for murder. Daniel must dig through all the suspects as quickly as he can, because the clock is ticking until his mysterious patronage--and his job as a runner--comes to an end.

Lady Juliette Thorndike is Agatha's bosom friend and has access to the wealthy London ton. She should be in a perfect position to help with the case, but her instructor in the art of spy craft orders her to stay out of the investigation. She quietly helps, nonetheless. When another murder is found at the mill, Daniel and Juliette are in a race to find the killer before his time runs out. It seems to Daniel that, like his earthly father, his heavenly Father has abandoned him to the fates.


My Review:
Millstone of Doubt is a Christian romance with a mystery set in 1816 in England. This is the 2nd book in the series, but you don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one. This book spoiled quite a lot about the previous book so you may wish to read them in order.

The story seemed mostly about Juliette falling in love, helped along by Daniel finding reasons to hold her closely and his giving her a deep, passionate kiss. While I liked them both, I don't understand why she's so attracted to him over the kind, supportive German noble. She mainly seemed drawn to Daniel because he knew her spy-in-training secret and he got physical with her (the thrill!). Juliette and Daniel spent some time together doing spy craft, and she helped gather information for his case, including the biggest clue.

There wasn't much of a mystery. Daniel's supposed to be a clever detective, but he overlooked several potential suspects. He spent a lot of time distracted so he delayed reading the collected evidence, including the Big Clue. Things weren't particularly difficult to figure out, from whodunit to who that pushy widow was to why Juliette's best friend's fiancé didn't like Daniel. Though that last might be simple only because I read too many novels. I suspected whodunit from the moment we met that person, who kept on acting suspicious until the Big Clue pointed Daniel in the right direction.

Historical details were woven into the story. Some aspects were highly researched, but there were also little things that weren't right for the time period, like Daniel being called a detective before the word was even invented.

The Christian element was that Daniel felt abandoned by his father and therefore felt God must have abandoned him, too. A friend pointed out how God had taken care of him and why it's not reasonable to judge God by a human father's behavior. 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.


Friday, September 23, 2022

Because I Could Not Stop for Death by Amanda Flower

Book cover
Because I Could Not Stop for Death
by Amanda Flower


ISBN-13: 9780593336946
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: September 20th 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
January 1855 Willa Noble knew it was bad luck when it was pouring rain on the day of her ever-important job interview at the Dickinson home in Amherst, Massachusetts. When she arrived late, disheveled with her skirts sodden and filthy, she'd lost all hope of being hired for the position. As the housekeeper politely told her they'd be in touch, Willa started toward the door of the stately home only to be called back by the soft but strong voice of Emily Dickinson. What begins as tenuous employment turns to friendship as the reclusive poet takes Willa under her wing.

Tragedy soon strikes and Willa's beloved brother, Henry, is killed in a tragic accident at the town stables. With no other family and nowhere else to turn, Willa tells Emily about her brother's death and why she believes it was no accident. Willa is convinced it was murder. Henry had been very secretive of late, only hinting to Willa that he'd found a way to earn money to take care of them both. Emily offers to help, only to realize that some very high-powered people will stop at nothing to keep their profitable secrets.


My Review:
Because I Could Not Stop for Death is a mystery set in 1855 in Massachusetts and Washington DC. Willa's too timid to really investigate the murder, but Emily's bold, curious, and wants justice for Willa. Emily's used to getting her way and had a certain disbelief that anyone would harm her family. Together, they asked questions, poked around, and found clues as to why Willa's brother was murdered. It's a clue-based puzzle mystery, though I didn't think it was very difficult to figure out whodunit once they uncovered what Willa's brother had been doing. Historical details about the time and the Dickinson's lives were woven into the story and brought it alive in my imagination. The main characters were interesting and likable.

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


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Whiskers and Lies by Sofie Kelly

Book cover
Whiskers and Lies
by Sofie Kelly


ISBN-13: 9780593200018
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Released: September 13, 2022

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Baker Georgia Tepper has been hired to provide delicious and spooky cupcakes for the Reading Buddies Halloween Party at the library, and she and Kathleen are meeting to finalize the menu of festive confections. Unfortunately, once Georgia's former mother-in-law ambushes her at the library and threatens Georgia with legal action, the afternoon of fun is soured.

When Georgia's litigious in-law is later found dead and the friendly baker is implicated, Kathleen is eager to help prove her innocence. Luckily, Kathleen and her intrepid magical cats, Hercules and Owen, have solved their fair share of mysteries. As a result, she knows that in life as well as crime solving, it is all relative, but with hard work, she can make sure the right criminal is booked.


My Review:
Whiskers and Lies is a cozy mystery. This is the 14th book in the series. You don't need to read the previous books to understand this one, and this book didn't spoil the mysteries in the previous books.

It's a clue-based mystery. Kathleen is intelligent and knows how to ask questions without being pushy or accusing. I correctly guessed whodunit based on the question (also asked in the book) of who would most benefit from the death. It took Kathleen a little longer as she figured out the full motive and sequence of events along with whodunit. The cats are intelligent and have cat abilities (disappearing and getting out of places) taken to a magical degree. Their actions drew attention to clues but they also provided humor with their antics. They're also acting more and more human-level intelligent as the series goes on.

There was no sex. There were just a few uses of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this fun 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.