Friday, October 19, 2018

The Chinese Orange Mystery by Ellery Queen

book cover
The Chinese Orange Mystery
by Ellery Queen


ISBN-13: 9781613161104
Hardcover
Publisher: American Mystery Classics
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
The offices of foreign literature publisher and renowned stamp collector Donald Kirk are often host to strange activities, but the most recent occurrence­—the murder of an unknown caller, found dead in an empty waiting room—is unlike any that has come before. Nobody, it seems, entered or exited the room, and yet the crime scene clearly has been manipulated, leaving everything in the room turned backwards and upside down. Stuck through the back of the corpse’s shirt are two long spears—and a tangerine is missing from the fruit bowl. Enter amateur sleuth Ellery Queen, who arrives just in time to witness the discovery of the body, only to be immediately drawn into a complex case in which no clue is too minor or too glaring to warrant careful consideration.

Reprinted for the first time in over thirty years, The Chinese Orange Mystery is revered to this day for its challenging conceit and inventive solution. The book is a “fair-play” mystery in which readers have all the clues needed to solve the crime.


My Review:
The Chinese Orange Mystery is a mystery set in New York City and was originally published in 1934. The mystery was a clue-based puzzle that can be solved based on the clues. I was able to narrow my suspects down much more quickly than the detective or his clever son, Ellery Queen. Ellery got started down an odd, wrong track at the start. There really wasn't a lot more to go on by the time the author asked the reader to guess whodunit than there was shortly after the murder. Still, it was entertaining to see the results of Ellery following up on every "backward" lead.

I was able to guess whodunit after we're given the vague details of the experiments that Ellery performed AFTER the author suggested that the reader guess at whodunit. However, I could not guess how or why. There was no sex. There was occasional use 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.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Lethal Target by Janice Cantore

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Lethal Target
by Janice Cantore


ISBN-13: 9781496423740
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Police Chief Tess O'Rourke thought she'd taken care of her small town's drug problem last year. But now Rogue's Hollow residents are up in arms over a contentious vote on legalizing the sale of marijuana within city limits. And when an eighteen-year-old is found dead of a possible overdose, Tess wonders if the local pot farms might be involved and begins to fear that a new, deadlier drug supply chain has cropped up.

With her relationship to Sergeant Steve Logan on shaky ground, Tess could really use a friend, and she feels drawn to Pastor Oliver Macpherson's quiet presence. But the anger she holds over her father's death prevents her from embracing his faith and finding peace. Battling storms within and without, Tess is shocked when an enemy from her past shows up in town to stir up more trouble and works to turn the town against her. When she learns that a drug boss has put a price on her head, it feels like everyone has turned against her.


My Review:
Lethal Target is a Christian suspense novel. It's the second book in a series and is a continuation of that story, though you can understand what's going on if you read it as a stand alone. I'd strongly recommend reading them in order, though, especially as the events in the previous novel are "spoiled" in this one.

Poor Tess has to deal with a lot in this novel. She's called to the scene of a teenager's death. It looks like a drug overdose, but some things aren't quite right. The teenager's father is angry at her for even considering that his son might have done drugs and for not instantly solving the crime. Someone from her past who hates her comes along to stir up the town against her, and a drug boss wants everyone dead who was involved in killing a family member (which includes Tess). Tess just wants to solve the crimes and stop the bad guys, but it seems like everyone's making this as difficult as possible.

The characters acted realistically, and I cared about what happened to them. I liked Tess's tenacity, sense of duty, and compassion. Pastor Oliver's willingness to reach out to anyone and show God's love helped several people find emotional and spiritual peace. Tess dealt with her anger with God over letting her father die in the line of duty when she was young. 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.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

In at the Death by Francis Duncan

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In at the Death
by Francis Duncan


ISBN-13: 9781492673408
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Mordecai Tremaine and Chief Inspector Jonathan Boyce travel to Bridgton to investigate the murder of the local doctor. No sooner have they arrived than it becomes clear that the city harbors more than its fair share of passions and motives...and one question echoes loudly throughout the cobbled streets: why did Dr. Hardene, the local GP of impeccable reputation, bring a revolver with him on a routine visit to a patient?


My Review:
In at the Death is a mystery set in England that was originally published in 1952. It is the fourth book in a series, but you don't need to read the previous books to understand this one. The amateur sleuth of the series, Mordecai Tremaine, has permission to follow Chief Inspector Jonathan Boyce around as he investigates.

The mystery was a clue-based puzzle. Whodunit can be correctly guessed before the big reveal, though the author tried to create uncertainty about who Mordecai's main suspect was near the end. Both the detective and Mordecai asked good questions and observed important clues. Since Mordecai wasn't official, he was able to see things that the detective didn't. He passed on useful information and solved the mystery.

There was no sex. There were only a few uses 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.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Burden of Proof by DiAnn Mills

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Burden of Proof
by DiAnn Mills


ISBN-13: 9781496427045
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Tyndale
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Reeling from a negotiation gone wrong, FBI Special Agent April Ramos is caught off guard when a frazzled young woman shoves a crying baby into her arms, then disappears. Worry for the child’s safety quickly turns to fear when a man claiming to be the girl’s father abducts them at gunpoint. April puts her hostage negotiation skills to use to learn more about who she’s dealing with: Jason Snyder, a fugitive accused of murder.

As Jason spins a tall tale about being framed for the killing of his business partner, April must sort through his claims to find the truth. A truth that becomes all the more evident after April overhears a conversation between Jason and the local sheriff and realizes something more sinister may be happening in their small town of Sweet Briar, Texas. But aligning herself with a known fugitive to uncover the burden of proof could cost April her job . . . or worse, her life and the lives of other innocent people.


My Review:
Burden of Proof is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The hero helped the corrupt, local sheriff's wife and child escape his abuse, and the sheriff will do anything to get them back. The sheriff sets the hero up as the main suspect in a murder.

The hero has a temper and made some bad decisions. He insisted on doing things his own way and sometimes even kept important evidence to himself. The heroine tries to win his trust and to keep him from (legally speaking) messing up the evidence that has proven so difficult to gather. She has her hands full.

The suspense was created by the repeated attacks on the main characters. The main characters were likable, but I often felt exasperated with the hero since his actions often needlessly put the heroine (and himself) in danger. By the end, he realized that his desire to be in control (even the illusion of control) hadn't helped matters.

The characters occasionally prayed for help. There was no sex or 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.


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Hidden Peril by Irene Hannon

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Hidden Peril
by Irene Hannon


ISBN-13: 9780800727697
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Revell
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from Goodreads:
As teenagers, Kristin Dane and her two best friends took a vow to make the world a better place. Twenty years later, she's fulfilling that pledge through her fair trade shop that features products from around the world. All is well until, one by one, people connected to the shop begin dying.

Detective Luke Carter, new to the St. Louis PD, wants to know why. Before he can answer that question, however, the FBI weighs in and Kristin suddenly finds herself in the middle of international intrigue--and in the sights of the ruthless mastermind behind an ingenious and deadly, scheme. Can this cold-blooded killer be stopped before more people die . . . including Kristin?


My Review:
Hidden Peril is a Christian romantic suspense novel. It's the second book in a new series, but it's also a stand-alone novel.

The main characters were likable and acted in realistic ways. Kristin was admirable because she spent her life trying to help others and was willing to face danger to stop the bad people. I can understand why Luke was attracted to her, but first he had to overcome his feeling that he was betraying his dead wife. The suspense came from the danger to anyone involved with the smuggling scheme, whether they were aware of it or not. Multiple people were killed simply because they messed up or were no longer useful.

We mainly saw the character's Christian faith through how they treated people and what they cared about. 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.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Big Book of Female Detectives by Otto Penzler, Editor

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The Big Book of Female Detectives
by Otto Penzler, Editor


ISBN-13: 9780525434740
Paperback: 1136 pages
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Released: Oct. 9, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Edgar Award-winning editor Otto Penzler's new anthology brings together the most cunning, resourceful, and brilliant female sleuths in mystery fiction. A Vintage Crime/Black Lizard Original.

For the first time ever, Otto Penzler gathers the most iconic women of the detective canon over the past 150 years, captivating and surprising readers in equal measure. The 74 handpicked stories in this collection introduce us to the most determined of gumshoe gals, from debutant detectives like Anna Katharine Green's Violet Strange to spinster sleuths like Mary Roberts Rinehart's Hilda Adams, from groundbreaking female cops like Baroness Orczy's Lady Molly to contemporary crime-fighting P.I.s like Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, and include indelible tales from Agatha Christie, Carolyn Wells, Edgar Wallace, L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace, Sara Paretsky, Nevada Barr, Linda Barnes, Laura Lippman, and many more.


My Review:
The Big Book of Female Detectives is a collection of 74 short mystery stories featuring a female detective. These stories were grouped by when they were written and featured stories from the first fictional female detectives in the mid-1800s up to the modern day. Some of the stories were very short while a few seemed novella length, but most could be read in an hour or two.

Some were essentially the detective telling how she solved the crime. Many told events as they happened and provided clues for the reader to puzzle out. Many of the women were competent, clever private or amateur detectives. A few were criminals intrigued by solving the puzzle or were even the one committing the crime. A whole group of stories had the woman as basically the beautiful sidekick to the real detective. This collection was interesting to read and contained many fun stories. There was no sex. There was a fair amount of bad language, mostly found in the more modern stories.

The Victorians And Edwardians
THE MYSTERIOUS COUNTESS by Anonymous
THE UNRAVELED MYSTERY by Andrew Forrester, Jr.
THE REDHILL SISTERHOOD by C. L. Pirkis
THE DIAMOND LIZARD by George R. Sims
THE STIR OUTSIDE THE CAFÉ ROYAL by Clarence Rook
THE MANDARIN by Fergus Hume
THE OUTSIDE LEDGE: A CABLEGRAM MYSTERY by L. T. Meade and Robert Eustace
THE FREWIN MINIATURES by Emmuska Orczy
CONSCIENCE by Richard Marsh
THE HIDDEN VIOLINby M. McDonell Bodkin


Before World War I
CHRISTABEL’S CRYSTAL by Carolyn Wells
THE BULLET FROM NOWHERE by Hugh C. Weir
AN INTANGIBLE CLEW by Anna Katharine Green
PLANTED by James Oppenheim


The Pulp Era
THE WIZARD’S SAFE by Valentine
THE MADAME GOES DRAMATIC by Perry Paul
RED HOT by Frederick Nebel
THE DOMINO LADY COLLECTS by Lars Anderson
THE LETTERS AND THE LAW by T. T. Flynn
THE OLD MAIDS DIE by Whitman Chambers
TOO MANY CLIENTS by D. B. McCandless
RAT RUNAROUND by Roger Torrey
MURDER WITH MUSIC AND COKE FOR CO-EDS by Adolphe Barreaux
CHILLER-DILLER by Richard Sale


The Golden Age
THE SECRET ADVERSARY by Agatha Christie
DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND by Frederic Arnold Kummer
LOCKED DOORS by Mary Roberts Rinehart
THE TEA-LEAF by Edgar Jepson and Robert Eustace
THE ALMOST PERFECT MURDER by Hulbert Footner
THE LOVER OF ST. LYS by F. Tennyson Jesse
MISOGYNY AT MOUGINS by Gilbert Frankau
INTRODUCING SUSAN DARE by Mignon G. Eberhart
THE BLOODY CRESCENDO by Vincent Starrett
THE WOMAN FROM THE EAST by Edgar Wallace
BURGLARS MUST DINE E. by Phillips Oppenheim
THE MISSING CHARACTER by Phyllis Bentley
MURDER IN THE MOVIES by Karl Detzer
THE GILDED PUPIL by Ethel Lina White
THE CASE OF THE HUNDRED CATS by Gladys Mitchell


Mid-Century
MURDER WITH FLOWERS by Q. Patrick
VACANCY WITH CORPSE by H. H. Holmes
THE RIDDLE OF THE BLACK MUSEUM by Stuart Palmer
MEREDITH’S MURDER by Charlotte Armstrong
FLOWERS FOR AN ANGEL by Nigel Morland
THERE’S DEATH FOR REMEMBRANCE by Frances and Richard Lockridge
MOM SINGS AN ARIA by James Yaffe


The Modern Era
ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE by Marcia Muller
BLOOD TYPES by Julie Smith
A POISON THAT LEAVES NO TRACE by Sue Grafton
DISCARDS by Faye Kellerman
SPOOKED by Carolyn Hart
MAKING LEMONADE by Barbara Paul
LOUISE by Max Allan Collins
STRUNG OUT by Sara Paretsky
BENEATH THE LILACS by Nevada Barr
MISS GIBSON by Linda Barnes
HEADACHES AND BAD DREAMS by Lawrence Block
AN AFFAIR OF INCONVENIENCE by Anne Perry
BEAUBIEN by Deborah Morgan
DOUBLE-CROSSING DELANCEY by S. J. Rozan
THE SHOESHINE MAN’S REGRETS by Laura Lippman
DUST UP by Wendy Hornsby
THE CASE OF THE PARR CHILDREN by Antonia Fraser
FAST by Jeffery Deaver


Bad Girls
THE WINGED ASSASSIN by L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace
THE BLOOD-RED CROSS by L. T. Meade & Robert Eustace
HE ADVENTURE OF THE CARNEGIE LIBRARY by John Kendrick Bangs
SHE KNEW WHAT TO DO by Joseph Shearing
THE FORGERS by Arthur B. Reeve
THE MEANEST MAN IN EUROPE by David Durham
FOUR SQUARE JANE UNMASKED by Edgar Wallace
THE ADVENTURE OF THE HEADLESS STATUE by Eugene Thomas
THE PASSING OF ANNE MARSH by Arthur Leo Zagat
EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES by Joyce Carol Oates



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, October 5, 2018

Undercover Memories by Lenora Worth

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Undercover Memories
by Lenora Worth


ISBN-13: 9781335490650
Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Love Inspired Suspense
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Her most important mission...and she can't remember what it is. After amnesia strands private investigator Emma Langston in Dallas, only Detective Ryder Palladin can stop the men trying to kill her. But protective custody on Ryder's family ranch has its own risks, like falling for the handsome cowboy. Before she can untangle her feelings for Ryder, Emma must recover her memory...because she's sure someone's life depends on it, even if she can't remember whose.


My Review:
Undercover Memories is a Christian romantic suspense novel. The detective rescues and protects Emma, a private investigator, from repeated attacks. She initially can't remember why she was asking questions at the bar where she was beaten, but she feels an urgency to go back there again. She recovers her memory pretty quickly, only to realize that she's trying to find a kidnapped teenager and time may be running out. She has little to go on and feels desperate, which makes her reckless.

The detective just wants her to cooperate with him as he helps her, but they're constantly frustrated with each other. They're also physically attracted, despite personality conflicts and past relationship hangups. The race to find clues and save the teenager kept my interest, but the romance just didn't work for me. They can barely work together as a team. After knowing each other for only a few days, the story ended with a scene that basically goes: you want to try dating despite everything? Yup. What about let's get married? Yes!

There was no sex or bad language. The Christian element was Emma's trust that God had a purpose to everything.


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.


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer; Kristi Ann Hunter; Sarah Loudin Thomas; Becky Wade

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The Christmas Heirloom by Karen Witemeyer;
Kristi Ann Hunter;
Sarah Loudin Thomas;
Becky Wade


ISBN-13: 9780764230783
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: Oct. 2, 2018

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
In Kristi Ann Hunter's "Legacy of Love," Sarah Gooding never suspected returning a brooch to an elderly woman would lead to a job . . . and introduce her to the woman's grandson, a man far above her station.

In Karen Witemeyer's "Gift of the Heart," widow Ruth Albright uses the family brooch as collateral for a loan from the local banker. But the more she comes to know the man behind the stern businessman, the more she hopes for a second chance at love.

In Sarah Loudin Thomas's "A Shot at Love," Fleeta Brady's rough-and-tumble childhood means she prefers hunting to more feminine activities. She never expected her family's brooch might be how a fellow hunter turns her attention from competition to romance.

In Becky Wade's "Because of You," Maddie Winslow has spent years in love with a man whose heart was already spoken for. When a church Christmas project brings them together and she stumbles upon an old family brooch, might it finally be her turn for love?


My Review:
The Christmas Heirloom is a collection of four Christian romance novellas, spanning from 1827 in England to modern day America. It's hard enough to create a naturally-paced romance in a novel length, so I was pleasantly surprised that three of these stories felt like the couple had really gotten to know each other and were well-suited matches. I also liked that they were attracted to the other's character and not simply the other's good looks.

While Fleeta's story was enjoyable, the focus was more on her feeling like she wasn't loved and didn't belong. As a consequence, it felt like she suddenly changed her mind about marrying because her lifelong dream hit a snag. He was interested in her and kind, and they shared an interest in guns, so, hey. But they hardly knew each other.

The characters believed in God and we see how God provided in their lives, etc. None of the stories were preachy, and the mentions of God were worked in naturally. There was no sex or bad language. Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable collection.


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.