Sunday, July 14, 2019

Cold Aim by Janice Cantore

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Cold Aim
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781496423788
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: July 9, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
Police Chief Tess O'Rourke's small town is still reeling from a devastating fire when the FBI asks for help: Could she shelter a witness in a high-profile human trafficking case? Initially reluctant to put the townspeople of Rogue's Hollow at risk, Tess is swayed after she sees Pastor Oliver Macpherson's genuine conviction to rescue those in need, a trait in him she's coming to love more each day.

Tess's fledgling faith is tested when crews of workmen from out of town come in to assist with the fire cleanup and she worries that one of these strangers might shine a light on things best kept hidden. Neither she nor Oliver knows that Rogue's Hollow is already home to a suspect from a twenty-five-year-old murder case . . . and someone is taking cold aim at those Tess is sworn to protect.


My Review:
Cold Aim is a Christian suspense novel. It's the third book in a series but works fine as a stand alone. One person's actions during a suspenseful event from the previous novel were briefly "spoiled" in this one, so you may wish to read the novels in order.

Tess lives out justice as the police chief, but she's increasingly attracted to the mercy and compassion shown by Oliver. Pastor Oliver admires Tess' courage, but he's also frighten he might lose her to death like he did his wife. Everyone else seems to feel that a romance between a pastor and a cop will never work. Tess deals with these doubts while trying to keep the town safe. A fire sweeps through the area and the crew hired to clean-up afterward contains at least one criminal. A poacher is illegally killing animals. A couple who lost their house in the fire regularly argues--loudly--and Tess fears it may turn into domestic violence. And Tess is asked to help a human trafficking victim who agreed to testify and bring down a trafficking ring, but she needs to be secretly hidden until the trial because assassins will probably be sent after her.

So, constant suspense! The characters acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. I liked Tess's compassion and determination to keep her town safe and Pastor Oliver's willingness to show God's love to people, even those that other people thought were hopeless. Several characters question why God doesn't stop every bad thing from happening and if there are people so evil and hard that they're beyond hope. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this engaging, suspenseful story.


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, July 12, 2019

Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey

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Eye Spy
by Mercedes Lackey


ISBN-13: 9780756413200
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Daw Books
Released: July 9, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, are happily married with three kids. When their daughter, Abidela, senses the imminent collapse of a bridge, she saves many lives. The experience uncovers her unique Gift—an ability to sense the physical strains in objects. Intrigued by the potential of her Gift, the Artificers train her in math and construction techniques. Her Gift may also grant her an advantage as a spy. With the help of her mentors, she must hone her gift to uncover hidden secrets.


My Review:
Eye Spy is a fantasy novel for tweens and teens. While the story works as a stand alone novel, you'll better understand some of the references made in the story if you've read more of the Valdemar series. Frankly, this story felt fragmented--like it was several short stories about Abidela put into one book. She's confronted with a bully but immediately took care of that threat because she's smart and talented. She needed to learn to use her Gift, yet that's more summarized than seen, so not much suspense built up there. Then she helped her dad briefly by working as a spy. So a series of short adventures, and most didn't contain a notable challenge because she's so talented and smart.

The usual underdog fight against dangerous evil people didn't start until the last quarter of the book, so there wasn't a lot of time to develop the conflict, and the ending felt rushed. It was an enjoyable story, there just wasn't a lot of suspense since the problems were resolved so quickly. There was no sex. There was some bad language (including b**ch).


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, July 10, 2019

Framed in Lace by Monica Ferris

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Framed in Lace
by Monica Ferris


ISBN-13: 9780425171493
Mass Market Paperback:
243 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: October 1, 1999

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
When the historic Hopkins ferry is raised from the lake, a skeleton is discovered. Unfortunately, the only evidence is a piece of lace-like fabric. But once Betsy Devonshire and the patrons of her needlecraft shop lend a hand, they're sure to stitch together the details of this mystery.


My Review:
Framed in Lace is a cozy mystery. It's the second book in a series. You don't need to read the first book to understand this one, and the whodunit of the previous mystery is not spoiled in this one.

I like how the heroine reasons out the clues (all the clues must fit), is concerned about innocent people's reputations being damaged by her digging up secrets, and realizes that finding a murderer can be dangerous. I like how the characters generally act and react like realistic people. Godwin came across as a cliche character in this story, so it's comforting to know that later in the series (where I started reading) that he turns into a realistic, complex person instead of a stereotype.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle mystery. It was fun trying to get all the clues to fit into a reasonable sequence and to determine whodunit. I was fairly certain of whodunit before the end, but it took all the clues to unravel the sequence of events.

There was no sex. There was occasional use of bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable puzzle 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, July 7, 2019

Season of Darkness by Cora Harrison

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Season of Darkness
by Cora Harrison


ISBN-13: 9780727888761
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Severn House Publishers
Released: July 1, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
When Inspector Field shows his friend Charles Dickens the body of a young woman dragged from the River Thames, he cannot have foreseen that the famous author would immediately recognize the victim as Isabella Gordon, a housemaid he had tried to help through his charity. Nor that Dickens and his fellow writer Wilkie Collins would determine to find out who killed her. Who was Isabella blackmailing, and why? Led on by a series of notes discovered by Isabella's friend Sesina, the two men track the murdered girl's journeys from Greenwich to Snow Hill, from Smithfield Market to St Bartholomews, and put their wits to work on uncovering her past. But what does Sesina know that she's choosing not to tell them? And is she doomed to follow in the footsteps of the unfortunate Isabella


My Review:
Season of Darkness is a mystery set in 1853 in London. Wilkie Collins helped his friend Charles Dickens to solve the murder of a maid that Dickens once tried to help educate through Urania Cottage. Wilkie and Sesina, a maid who was best friends with the dead girl, were the main view point characters. They went about solving the murder in their own ways, though Sesina was tempted to blackmail the murderer (since she feels she's very clever) while Wilkie and Dickens wanted to turn whodunit in to Inspector Field. The characters were interesting and well developed. Even the secondary characters had realistic motives for why they acted as they did (hiding information, searching for answers, etc.).

Historical details about what London was like at the time were woven into the story and played a role in the mystery. Suspense was created by the danger to Sesina as she tried to uncover several people's secrets in her attempts to discover whodunit. While I correctly guessed whodunit early on, it was very reasonable that the characters didn't see it. I read this book out loud read, and the other two "readers" didn't think I was right even up to the reveal, so whodunit isn't obvious. We all enjoyed the story. There was no sex. There were a few uses of bad language. Overall, I'd highly 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Cold Case Secrets by Maggie K. Black

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Cold Case Secrets
by Maggie K. Black


ISBN-13: 9781335232212
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: July 2, 2019

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGally.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Solving his sister’s murder is Mountie Jacob Henry’s only priority—until his daring helicopter rescue of Grace Finch leaves them stranded in the Canadian wilderness. Now with a storm raging and escaped convicts in pursuit, Jacob and Grace must rely on each other for survival. But when Jacob discovers Grace’s deadly secret, can he look past it in the fight for their lives?


My Review:
Cold Case Secrets is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It is the 4th in a series, but it works as a stand-alone. The hero feels guilt over not being there to stop is little sister's (unsolved) murder when they were children, so he chose a job involving rescuing people. The heroine is a smart and capable journalist who's determined to be the opposite of her secret, biological father--a criminal and murderer. Only he's threatening to ruin her career by exposing their relationship, so she's traveled deep into the wilderness to retrieve evidence that he says is there and will prove his innocence. But three killers just made a prison break and are armed and roaming free in that same area.

The hero seemed determined to force the heroine into the damsel in distress role by removing her means of defending herself. I'm not convinced that he wouldn't have immediately allowed a man trained to use firearms to keep the extra gun given the situation. I understand he's a strict rule follower and didn't quite trust her, but the convicts were armed and trying to kill her. Still, she refused be a helpless victim and rescued him as much as he rescued her. It took him a while, but he started trusting her and treating her more like a competent partner even as he worked to protect her.

Suspense was created by the continuous physical danger from the wilderness and the killers. I enjoyed the characters and cared about what happened to them. The romance developed as they got to know each other. They became better people and found healing through what they went through together. The hero freely prayed to God for help and protection, and the heroine started doing so after having been angry at God for years. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable 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.


Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Doorbell Rang by Rex Stout

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The Doorbell Rang
by Rex Stout


ISBN-13: 9780553237214
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Released: 1965; June 1992

Source: Borrowed from the library.

Book Description from Goodreads:
When Rachel Bruner sends out copies of a book critical of the FBI to 10,000 influential people, the agency begins harassing her. Then she hires Nero Wolfe to make them stop, and once he's discovered the bureau's weak spot, he sets in motion a scheme guaranteed to force the FBI to leave both him and Rachel alone.


My Review:
The Doorbell Rang is a historical mystery set in New York City (though it was a contemporary mystery when it was written in 1965). This story was more a challenge to Nero Wolfe to do the impossible rather than a complex mystery. A murder mystery was involved, but Archie Goodwin figured out whodunit fairly quickly. I enjoyed the humorous tone of Archie as he told the story, and Wolfe did, indeed, come up with a clever way to best the FBI.

There was no sex. There was some bad language. I'd recommend starting with one of the actual mystery novels if you've never read a Nero Wolfe story since Wolfe is usually about solving complex mysteries. However, this book is certainly worth reading if you're a fan.


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, June 30, 2019

Sup with the Devil by Barbara Hamilton

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Sup with the Devil
by Barbara Hamilton


ISBN-13: 9780425243206
Trade Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Released: October 4, 2011

Source: Bought from Half.com.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
After an attempt on the life of her young nephew Horace, Abigail Adams, wife of attorney John Adams, travels to Harvard to investigate. A mysterious woman hired Horace to translate some Arabic, then left him at the mercy of her henchmen. He survived-with a tale of pirate treasure...

Meanwhile one of Horace's fellow students--loyal to the King--is murdered. The Sons of Liberty are desperate to find the rumored gold, but Abigail wants the truth. For the Devil's treasure comes with a curse that could bring down anyone, regardless of where their allegiance lies.


My Review:
Sup with the Devil is a historical mystery set in (and around) Boston in the spring of 1774. This book is the third in a series. You don't need to read the previous novels to understand this one, and this novel didn't spoil the previous mysteries.

My enjoyment of the previous two Abigail Adam's mysteries was mainly due to the nicely portrayed political tension--and yet personal respect--between Abigail and Coldstone as they worked to solve the mystery. But there is no Coldstone in this book. I also previously liked how Abigail was a part of everything and yet could view people as being real people instead of simply "us" and "them." Yet in this book, Abigail has gone from sympathy toward slaves to very anti-slavery with no explanation beyond the anti-slavery theme of the book. I was also surprised at Abigail's sudden change from troubled by Sam Adam's actions to practically vilifying him (and for fictional actions, too). I found this sudden change confusing.

The author also frequently combined two sentences into one in a disjointed way, which made Abigail come across as scatterbrained or distracted. There were sentences like, "Her mind returned to Johnny as she made ready for bed ("Now I've a clean hairbrush that I keep for those who're taken by circumstances unexpectedly...[and more chatter, presumably from the innkeeper])." or "While waiting for Mr. Metcalfe's reply--he had assured John of the occasion of their last meeting that any help I can be, to you or any of yours--Abigail walked from the Golden Stair to the town jail, only to be told by Sheriff Congreve that Diomede, still half-stupefied, had slipped back into a heavy sleep."

However, as in the previous books, the vivid historical details about the everyday life and politics were skillfully woven into the story. The characters reacted realistically to the situations, and I always understood their motives. The mystery was an interesting clue-based puzzle. Whodunit was guessable, and I was absolutely certain who it was long before Abigail even considered the option.

There was no sex. There was a very minor 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.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.