Review & Giveaway: THE HASIDIC REBBE’S SON by Joan Lipinsky Cochran

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read an advance review copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son (A Becks Ruchinsky Mystery) by Joan Lipinsky Cochran.

About the Book

Boca Raton reporter Becks Ruchinsky is stunned when her son, Gabe, brings an ultra-Orthodox friend home from college and asks her to hide him. Six days later, his body is found floating in a canal. When police deem his death an accident, Becks launches her own inquiry—a journey that takes her from secretive Hasidic enclaves to the seedy underbelly of South Beach’s glitzy club scene—to find his killer. What she discovers jeopardizes her son’s life and challenges her religious conviction.

The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son is an intriguing and compulsively readable mystery that contrasts the beauty of Hasidic tradition with the unbending rules that may lead to desperation and murder.

This book is available on Amazon.

My Review

Becks is an independent-spirted, obstinate woman. Her natural curiousity and background in journalism lend to her pursuit of the truth regarding the young man’s death. She is unwilling to relent despite her husband’s opposition, which is but one of the issues in their troubled relationship. Her son, Gabe, suffers from Asperger’s, and the challenges he and his family face are highlighted as part of the story. At the same time, her investigation brings with it insights into the widely divergent levels of religious observance practiced by Jews in different communities, and an interesting glimpse into some of the unique aspects of the Hasidic world.

The story is both well-written and well-paced. The plot became increasingly complex as Becks gathered more and more information on Mennie’s family, friends, and overall background, with the resolution something of a surprise.

A good choice for readers who enjoy mysteries or Jewish fiction in general.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a digital copy of The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son from the author.

About the Author

Joan Lipinsky Cochran is a South Florida-based writer whose crime and mystery novels focus on subcultures of American Judaism. In her latest novel, The Hasidic Rebbe’s Son, her protagonist is compelled to explore the glitzy South Beach nightclub scene and the secretive world of Hasidic Judaism to find a killer. It is the second in The Becks Ruchinsky Mystery Series. The first, The Yiddish Gangster’s Daughter, is the story of a woman whose world is upended – and life threatened – when she discovers her father was a member of the Jewish mafia.

Author Links

Review: WIN by Harlan Coben

Earlier this month, Harlan Coben’s latest mystery/thriller was released. A fan of the author’s earlier work, I was eager to read WIN and am happy to share my review with you today.

Description*

Over twenty years ago, the heiress Patricia Lockwood was abducted during a robbery of her family’s estate, then locked inside an isolated cabin for months. Patricia escaped, but so did her captors — and the items stolen from her family were never recovered. 

Until now. On the Upper West Side, a recluse is found murdered in his penthouse apartment, alongside two objects of note: a stolen Vermeer painting and a leather suitcase bearing the initials WHL3. For the first time in years, the authorities have a lead — not only on Patricia’s kidnapping, but also on another FBI cold case — with the suitcase and painting both pointing them toward one man.

Windsor Horne Lockwood III — or Win, as his few friends call him — doesn’t know how his suitcase and his family’s stolen painting ended up with a dead man. But his interest is piqued, especially when the FBI tells him that the man who kidnapped his cousin was also behind an act of domestic terrorism — and that the conspirators may still be at large. The two cases have baffled the FBI for decades, but Win has three things the FBI doesn’t: a personal connection to the case; an ungodly fortune; and his own unique brand of justice. 

* as appears on Amazon

My Review

In this novel, the story is told from the point of view of Win Lockwood, an enigmatic character who emerges from the shadows in several of this author’s Myron Bolitar novels, however whose backstory was never divulged. Win is a complex character – his violent nature and the liberties he takes in dispensing his idea of justice counter the traditional sense of what a good guy is. How can identify with a protagonist who has a thirst for violence, who leverages his wealth and social standing to get what he wants? Well, somehow as the story unfolds and we learn about his family and their past, and we view his actions on the backdrop of persons whose crimes and propensity for cruelty are truly unfathomable, our perspective shifts a bit. This book is all the multi-faceted Win – the good and the bad, the violent and the benevolent, and made for a fascinating read. The plot was fast-paced, with surprising twists and a healthy dose of tension that kept those pages turning.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book from Grand Central Publishing via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Giveaway: THE INFLUENCER by Frankie Bow

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read the most recent release from Frankie Bow – The Influencer, A Professor Molly Mystery. A nice choice for fans of cozy mysteries.

About the Book

In Which Professor Molly Learns There Is, In Fact, Such a Thing as Bad Publicity

It’s spring break. Donnie’s taken the baby to visit relatives on the mainland, and Professor Molly finally has time to catch up on the assessment paperwork she owes the Student Retention Office.

Molly’s new renter is a social media star seeking privacy in remote Mahina. The arrangement seems to be working out–until her celebrity renter disappears. Molly and her best friend Emma dutifully call in the Mahina PD and try to stay out of the way. But when fame creates its own reality distortion field, everyone has an angle and nothing is as it seems.

My Review

In this latest installment in the series, Professor Molly and best friend and partner-in-crime, Emma, are eager to help figure out what happened to a prominent social media influencer. Helped out by Pat and his new sidekick, Howdy, the team comes up with theories, which inevitable require revisions, as new details are revealed en route to the mystery’s revolution. The characters are well-defined, and include Molly’s old nemesis from the Student Retention Office. That said, I was at times distracted from the story by Emma’s frequent use of local dialect. The plot moved along at a steady pace, with just enough twists to keep curious readers on their toes.
Overall, this is a pleasant and well-written read for cozy mystery fans.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a copy of The Influencer (Professor Molly Mysteries) by Frankie Bow. 

About the Author

AuthorPhoto

Like Professor Molly, Frankie Bow teaches at a public university. Unlike her protagonist, she is blessed with delightful students, sane colleagues, and a perfectly nice office chair. She believes if life isn’t fair, at least it can be entertaining. In addition to writing murder mysteries, she publishes in scholarly journals under her real name. Her experience with academic publishing has taught her to take nothing personally.

Author Links 

Purchase Links:
Amazon     B&N      Rakuten/Kobo      Angus & Robertson      Apple 

For more reviews, guest posts, and more, visit the tour page.

Review, Excerpt & Giveaway: DEAD IN A DUMPSTER by B.L. Blair

As part of a blog tour organized by RABT Book Tours, I recently read Dead in a Dumpster by B.L. Blair. Although it’s not a new release, this was my first time reading anything by this author.

About the Book

When Leah Norwood finds the body of Isabel Meeks in the dumpster behind her store, she can’t believe the police consider her a suspect. Sure, she didn’t like Isabel, but then again, neither did anyone else. Isabel had a condescending attitude and a bad reputation. As manager of the antique store, Patina, she had made a lot of enemies.

There is Patina’s assistant manager, the handsome and charming Trent. Isabel was blackmailing him. There is Patina’s owner, the aloof and influential Anthony Thorpe. Isabel was smuggling drugs through his store. And there is the entire drug dealing Cantono family. Isabel had lost a box containing heroin from one of their shipments. That is just to name a few and didn’t even include the stranger who was seen arguing with Isabel just hours before her death.

The police have too many suspects and too many soft alibis. Leah needs to prove to the sexy new chief of police that she had nothing to do with Isabel’s death.

Leah loves a good mystery. Can she find the killer before the police arrest her for murder?

My Review

Leah Norwood runs a small shop in a quaint town. She is a likable character with a more than healthy dose of curiosity and some great friends. Ironically, she’s more afraid she’ll be accused of murder than she is of the “bad guys” in the story. The tone of the writing was light, with Leah telling you the story as if you are one of her friends. A friend who doesn’t mind when she repeats herself. The plot was interesting, well paced at start and toward the end, however this reader found the middle a bit longwinded. A pleasant first in what promises to be a nice cozy series.

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Read an Excerpt

It was a quarter to eight before I was finally ready to leave. I went to the bathroom, gathered up the trash, and headed out the door. The sleet was still falling, and I could feel the ice pellets hitting my head. I hurried over to the dumpster setting the trash down by the bin. I pulled back the large lid and propped it against the brick wall. As I reached down for the trash, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.

I looked into the dumpster and saw Isabel Meeks staring back at me. It took my brain a few moments to determine she wasn’t actually looking at me but sitting perfectly still, eyes wide open, a surprised look on her face, and a huge bloodstain on her chest. I had never seen a dead body outside of a funeral so I did what any rational, mature human being would do. I screamed. I then turned and ran as fast as I could back to the store. I fumbled with the lock a moment but finally managed to get the door open. I even disabled the alarm before stumbling to my chair. I sat there shaking and staring at the door trying to process the scene. An image of Isabel flashed into my head, and I bolted from my chair and to the bathroom where I promptly lost my lunch.

Still a little shaky and somewhat nauseated, I rinsed out my mouth and walked back to the chair. I don’t know why it took me so long, but it finally occurred to me that I probably needed to tell someone. So for the second time that day, I reached for my phone to call the police.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for you chance to win an Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

B. L. Blair writes mystery/romance stories. Like most authors, she has been writing most of her life and has dozens of books started. She just needs the time to finish them.

She is the author of the Leah Norwood Mysteries and the Lost and Found Pets Mystery Novellas. She loves reading books, writing books, and traveling wherever and as often as time and money allows. She is currently working on her latest book set in Texas, where she lives with her family.

 Contact Links

 Purchase Links

Review: PREJUDICE MEETS PRIDE by Rachael Anderson

Even this hard-core mystery lover has to read something else every now and then. I recently downloaded and read Prejudice Meets Pride, the first book in Rachael Anderson’s Meet Your Match series. No, it’s not a new release, but it was definitely a fun read. I just might have to check out more of this author’s books.

About the Book*

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

* As appears on Amazon.

My Review

An entertaining light read with relatable characters and a healthy dose of humor.  In this sweet romance, the characters start off by making assumptions about one another and letting those assumptions get in each other’s way.  Grant is quick to misjudge Emma, while she is too full of pride to accept his help. It was fun to see how Emma and Grant spar (verbally, of course) as they get to know each other, and gradually let their guard done. In many ways, they are polar opposites, but both of them are kind-hearted. And they both have a playful streak, which leads to a range of amusing antics on their parts. A pleasant diversion that had me smiling as I read.

Review: SERPENTINE by Jonathan Kellerman

A long-time fan of the Alex Delaware mysteries by Jonathan Kellerman, I jumped at the opportunity to read an advance review copy of Serpentine, the latest addition to the successful series.

Description*

Psychologist Alex Delaware and detective Milo Sturgis search for answers to a brutal, decades-old crime in this electrifying psychological thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling master of suspense.

LAPD homicide lieutenant Milo Sturgis is a master detective. He has a near-perfect solve rate and he’s written his own rule book. Some of those successes—the toughest ones—have involved his best friend, the brilliant psychologist Alex Delaware. But Milo doesn’t call Alex in unless cases are “different.”

This murder warrants an immediate call. Milo’s independence has been compromised as never before, as the department pressures him to cater to the demands of a mogul: a hard-to-fathom, megarich young woman who is obsessed with reopening the coldest of cases—the decades-old death of the mother she never knew.

The facts describe a likely loser: a mysterious woman found with a bullet in her head in a torched Cadillac that has overturned on infamously treacherous Mulholland Drive. No physical evidence, no witnesses, no apparent motive. And a slew of detectives have already worked the case and failed. But as Delaware and Sturgis begin digging, the mist begins to lift. Too many coincidences. Facts turn out to be anything but. And as they soon discover, very real threats lurking in the present.

This is Delaware/Sturgis at their best: traversing the beautiful but forbidding place known as Los Angeles and exhuming the past in order to bring a vicious killer to justice.

*Description as appears on Amazon

My Review

Not known for playing well with fellow officers, Lt. Milo Sturgis is assigned a cold case. Ice cold. Despite the efforts of detectives who came before him, the circumstances surrounding the murder remain unclear. Furthermore, the reasons for reopening the case are unclear. So Milo recruits his psychologist pal, Alex Delaware, to help him puzzle through the scant evidence and identify the possible motives of those involved. They journey into L.A.’s past, with its rich womanizers and the young women who arrived in the city in search of fame and fortune, and more. And it soon becomes clear that somebody is not happy about their investigation. The plot developed at a nice pace, with twists and turns as Milo and Alex unroot the truth – which came as a surprise to this reader. An enjoyable read, for sure.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Guest Post: MYSTERY BONES MURDER by Karen Randau

As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Mystery Bones Murders, the first novella in the Frankie Shep Suspense Novella series by Karen Randau. And as a special treat, Frankie Shep has stopped by to introduce herself.


Introducing Frankie Shep, by Karen Randau

Hi! I’m Frankie Shep, a figment of author Karen Randau’s pandemic-addled imagination. A long-ago vacation in Wyoming planted the seed of me in Karen’s thoughts. She wanted to write about the state’s beauty, its sunsets, and the sprawling ranches, but she didn’t know about me yet. 

As author of the Rim Country Mysteries set in her home state of Arizona, Karen put aside her plans to bring Wyoming to life in a book. I think she nearly forgot about it. I was afraid I’d never get to bloom inside her head.

I watched Karen struggle with the isolation caused by COVID-19 shutdowns. It wasn’t that Karen didn’t have a lovely family to keep her company. The problem was the circumstances of her family combined with her tendency to keep quiet about what she was feeling. She worried when her single-parent son became an “essential worker” and her husband was considered to be in the “most vulnerable” group. She felt inadequate when the school closed and she ended up homeschooling her young grandson—teaching math of all things!

But I knew. She wasn’t writing, and writing was how she had always processed life’s challenges. Despite sleeping more than usual, she was constantly tired. And the wine was disappearing faster than normal. 

She was in a pretty bad funk when I sprouted and woke her in the middle of one night. As she dug deep down to help me with my dilemma, it helped her too.

I’m happy with the way I blossomed in Mystery Bones Murders. I’m a strong, self-reliant woman with a learning disability and a terrible secret. My grief after the deaths of my husband and son in a car wreck caused me to self-isolate on my dad’s Wyoming ranch. And Dad isn’t answering my calls. 

My animals are my best friends—a German Shepherd, an American Paint horse, and a cow with her calf, Diesel. My human best friends are the ranch hand I’ve known my whole life and his wonderful Peruvian wife who helps me pick out clothes when I finally decide to deal with my emotions and try out life again. They live across the pasture from me and are concerned that I’m losing too much weight.

When Diesel gets lost one night, I set out to find him. I dig up a bone and am super excited it might be the remains of an ancient Native American village. One icy look from my forensic anthropologist friend tells a totally different story.

And now there’s a serial killer watching me! But this creep is learning I’m not someone he can toy with.

Well…rather than tell you everything, why don’t I let you learn all about me by enjoying the thrill ride that is Mystery Bones Murders

Afterall, the Indie Express called it, “A great story, well written and with an eerie feel about it.” A Goodreads reader suggested, “If you enjoy reading compelling, thrilling books and a story that really makes you guess how it goes next, do yourself a favor and dive into this book.”


About The Book

Frankie Shep is still mourning the deaths of her husband and young son when she finds a bone in the far corner of her Wyoming cattle ranch.

Excited to think she may have discovered an ancient Native American village, she takes the bone to a lifelong friend who is now a forensic anthropologist on contract with her county.

After a cursory inspection, he turns a blood-chilling stare at Frankie. The bone isn’t ancient. Worse, the victim could be the remains of Frankie’s mother. She disappeared from her own bed more than a decade ago.

And now her retired father is missing.

As Frankie digs deeper, she discovers the terrifying truth that a serial killer is using her land to bury his victims, all members of her family and inner circle.

And now he’s watching her.

Mystery Bones Murders is a story of love, heart-wrenching deception, and finding redemption.

My Review

Frankie has known more than her fair share of tragedy, from her mother’s disappearance to her husband and son’s deaths. She has adapted to her losses by isolating herself from others, with few exceptions. And she’s mostly doing okay until the bodies start popping up. Unnerving to say the least. But Frankie is stronger than she seems and she’s determined to unravel the mystery surrounding her mother’s death and the other deaths as well. Although the fast-paced tale does feature an abundance of corpses, it’s (thankfully) not the stuff that nightmares are made of – making for a short, lightweight thriller with many a twist along the way.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

About the Author

Karen Randau authors fast-paced stories with intricate plots, lots of action, and a dash of romance told from the point of view of a female amateur sleuth. Mystery Bones Murders is her sixth book and the first book in a new series of novellas. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her multi-generational family.

Author Links

Purchase Links – Amazon 

Click here to visit the tour page for additional reviews, guest posts, and more.

Review, Series Spotlight & Giveaway: SUGAR MOUNTAIN BOOKS by Kirsten Fullmer

As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours to mark the release of Problems at the Pub by Kirsten Fullmer, today’s post spotlights a mystery series set in a cozy mountain town – Sugar Mountain – featuring a charming, yet devious, secret society of women.

Based on reading the first book in the series this past week, this author’s work is likely to please bookworms who are looking for squeaky clean mystery and a touch of sweet romance, with no graphic violence.

About the Series

With the recent release of Problems at the Pub, there are currently four books in this series.

Problems at the Pub (Sugar Mountain Book 4)

It’s another charming and madcap mystery! The enchanting tourist town of Sugar Mountain, NC is rewriting its tax codes, and no one knows why. Mayor Winslow is up to no good, and he doesn’t seem to care what happens to the local business owners; at least that’s how it feels to Monique Brewer, the local tavern owner. She’s proud of making her own way in the world, and messing with her business is a sure way to get her riled.

Sounds like another job for The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society! When Monique brings her concerns to the table, chaos erupts. The women don’t trust anyone, especially not the Mayor or his peculiar new assistant, Anthony Tidwell.

Will the group be able to come up with a solution to keep local businesses safe, or will the mayor finally get his way? Come along for the ride as the residents of Sugar Mountain learn they may be in for more trouble than anyone suspects.

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

Shadows in the Salon (Sugar Mountain Book 3)

A spooky mystery, a promising romance, and a secret society of scheming women…

The cozy town of Sugar Mountain, NC harbors a secret society of women. The society itself is not secret—it’s the devious work of the group that is mysterious.

Michelle owns the Salon, Shear Genius, on Sugar Mountain Main Street, a favorite with the tourists and locals alike. Lately she’s dealing with mysterious problems. She’s being plagued by spooky and unexplained goings-on. Is it a sign from beyond that she should rethink her life choices?

Matt Hopkins moved to Sugar Mountain after losing his business, but thanks to the lovely and talented Michelle, he is now building an amphitheater in town. It looks like things are finally going his way until Michelle is threatened by an eerie aggressor and the Mayor’s involvement spells trouble for his project. Will Matt be able to complete the Amphitheater and help Michelle, or will things with her fall apart as well?

Facing puzzling complications at every turn, The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society go undercover to figure out who is threatening Michelle and the new amphitheater. If they’re not careful, the society may fall apart and Michelle and Matt might end a promising romance. Come along for the ride on this zany, enchanting, romantic cozy mystery!

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

Where There’s Smoke (Sugar Mountain Book 2)

Sugar Mountain is a sleepy town bursting with tourists. If you like quirky shops and original artwork, you’ll want to visit. But the local kindergarten teacher, Sarah, has a mystery on her hands. All she did was try to help the fire department and now she’s receiving threatening notes. Of course, she takes the frightening messages to her friends in the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society, but even their investigative skills fall short. How will they be able to find the person intent on holding back the fire department and frightening Sarah?

Hugh Brockman, the second in command at the firehouse, is taking extra shifts to cope with the shortage of firefighters. When he visits Sarah’s classroom to talk to her students about fire safety, he gets caught up with the lovely teacher and her cryptic mystery. He’s not happy that someone in town is threatening her with bodily harm, and he intends to find out who it is.

With every lead shot down and tensions running high, it’s up to the ladies of the society to go undercover in their own town to flush out the culprit. If they’re not successful, the fire department will continue to be undermanned, leaving Sugar Mountain is in danger and Sarah in peril.

Join in the continuing antics of the Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society and fall in love along with Hugh and Sarah in this heartfelt and comical romantic mystery.

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

Trouble on Main Street (Sugar Mountain Book 1)

A cozy mountain town, a sweet romance, and a secret society of sneaky women…

The sleepy hamlet of Sugar Mountain harbors a secret society of women. Don’t misunderstand—the society itself is not secret—it’s the true nature of the group that is hush-hush.

Sugar Mountain is the kind of charming village that tourists adore. If you like small-town charm, quirky shops, and local art, this is the place for you. But when a blood smeared package shows up at the post office and it appears to be linked to a scheme that threatens Heidi Collinsworth’s historic home, the town takes on a sinister vibe. Heidi would lay odds that slimy Mayor Winslow is involved, but even with the enquiring skills of The Sugar Mountain Ladies Historical Society at work, proof is scarce.

The new guy in town, Adam Williams, is determined not to get involved in Sugar Mountain’s business. His last job in a big city planning office ruined his life, but Heidi needs his help. No matter how hard he tries to stay detached, Adam finds himself eyeball deep in Heidi’s problems, as well as the needs of her teenage son and a homeless dog.

With conflicting theories abound and tensions running high, it’s up to the ladies of the society to don disguises and go undercover. If they’re not careful, the town may fall to a wrecking ball, Heidi may fall for Adam, and the secret society will be exposed.

Meet the cast of colorful characters in this charming and zany introduction to a whole new series of romantic, cozy mysteries!

**Only .99 cents!!**
Goodreads * Amazon

My Review – Trouble on Main Street

I was tempted to read this book by the series’ unique premise – a secret society of sneaky women who practically run a quaint touristy town. The women are an interesting bunch – different backgrounds, different ages, and different occupations. What they have in common is their love of Sugar Mountain and their determination to do whatever they can to ensure it stays just the way they like it. Even if their actions defy logic and common sense, and the women take unnecessary risks.

The story took a while to pick up speed. As a reader of both cozy and thrillers, this reader kept expecting somebody to find a body. After all, most cozies are murder mysteries. About half way through I recognized that wasn’t the case here. Although the plot of the underlying mystery was light on suspense, the story’s bevy of spunky, quirky characters provided a pleasant, low-key diversion on a cold wintry day.

FTC disclosure: I received a review copy of this book as part of this blog tour. This has not affected the content of this review in any way.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card from this generous author.
Follow the tour HERE for additional reviews and special content.

About the Author

Kirsten is a writer with a love of art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted free lance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.

As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Review: DAMAGING SECRETS by Carolyn Ridder Aspenson

I was browsing the mystery offerings on NetGalley in search of something different (translation: not my usual cozy fare) and spotted Damaging Secrets, the first book in a new series from Carolyn Ridder Aspenson, featuring Detective Rachel Ryder. This interesting police procedural/thriller releases today!

Description

New to town and a little rough around the edges, Detective Rachel Ryder finds herself on the receiving end of a suspicious person’s call in Hamby, Georgia. When the call turns out to be a dead body, the medical examiner is quick to rule the death a suicide. But was it something more sinister?

Everyone in the small department believes the case is closed—except for Rachel. The sudden passing of a local politician during the mayor’s run for Congress strikes her as a little too coincidental, and Rachel is eager to follow her instincts. Her partner, Rob, a 30-year veteran, isn’t the type to disobey his boss or ruffle any feathers, but he can’t convince strong-willed Rachel to let it go.

Obsessed with finding out the truth, Rachel begins to examine the evidence and drags her reluctant partner along for the ride. But the clues are confusing. Nothing is adding up.

Puzzled and running out of time, Rachel and Rob rush to work every angle and bring the elusive killer to justice before someone else ends up dead.

*as appears on Amazon

My Review

Rachel Ryder is a strong, complex female character.  The seasoned Chicago detective is having a hard time adjusting to life in a small town in Georgia where the “old boys” club rules and male chauvinism runs rampant.  Her in-your-face, outspoken approach is at times annoying and it is easy to see how she manages to  alienate the chief of police, the mayor, and her fellow officers when she insists that the deceased, a prominent citizen, did not commit suicide. Of course, the fact that she’s a woman plays no small part in their reactions. Still, she is relentless in her determination to uncover the truth, despite orders to  leave it alone.  Her partner, Bishop, is a good guy, who is hesitant to defy orders, but she  gradually wins him over.  Their relationship grows as they establish mutual trust.  They make a good team.  No spoilers here, so suffice it to say that the plot had a good level of complexity and enough tension and twists to keep those pages turning.  A commendable start to a new series.

FTC disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review: PAPER, SCISSORS, DEATH by Joanna Campbell Slan

Having enjoyed the Cara Mia Delgatto series by Joanna Campbell Slan, I decided to give her Kiki Lowenstein books a try.   And, yes, I’ll readily confess the gorgeous Great Dane on the cover is what reeled me in. 

Description*

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JUST BECAUSE HER HUSBAND’S NAKED, DEAD, AND IN A HOTEL BED…
… it might not be what it seems. But there’s that scarf in his mouth. Of course it is.

Given the situation, Kiki Lowenstein can’t help remembering that her (late) husband got her pregnant while cheating on his girlfriend.

True, he did the right thing at the time, and their much-loved daughter Anya is now eleven years old. But suddenly he’s dead, and Kiki’s financially embarrassed—that jerk disinherited his own family!

Time for the timid to toughen up. Passive Kiki transforms herself into a fighter, walking right out of her luxurious life and into a scrapbooking store, where she deftly turns a hobby into a moneymaker. Her new gig goes slightly awry when her late husband’s not-so-ex-girlfriend insults her in public, but that’s just the beginning. The hurts keep piling up. How much can one woman stand?

As her husband’s secret life explodes before her eyes, Kiki discovers that their daughter has a shocking secret of her own. Then the cops come for Kiki. And Family Services comes for Anya. No more Mrs. Nice Guy. Kiki has to fight for all she holds dear, and her quest must start with tracking down her late husband’s killer. Hope arrives for Kiki in the twin forms of a hot, homicide detective and her own newfound ability to cope.

*Description from Amazon

My Review

I liked Kiki and her relationship with her daughter and with her close friends. Her marriage worked, even if it was mostly based on co-parenting. The four-legged character is a charmer, as is the detective. The underlying mystery was interesting, and the culprit was not obvious (a plus). On the downside, the book tended to describe into the art of scrapbooking in far greater detail than this non-scrapbooker enjoyed. I found myself skipping over much of it.  A pleasant light read, likely to please fans of cozy crafts mysteries.