Review: DOUBLE WHAMMY by Gretchen Archer

I recently found a new series to add to my favorites list. Well, considering the first in Gretchen Archer’s A Davis Way Crime Caper series came out in 2013, it’s not really a new series – but it was new to me.

I started the series from the first book – Double Whammy.

Description (from Amazon)

51hbymnebmlDavis Way thinks she’s hit the jackpot when she lands a job as the fifth wheel on an elite security team at the fabulous Bellissimo Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. But once there, she runs straight into her ex-ex-husband, a rigged slot machine, her evil twin, and a trail of dead bodies. Davis learns the truth and it does not set her free—in fact, it lands her in the pokey. Buried under a mistaken identity, her hot streak runs cold until her landlord Bradley Cole steps in. Make that her landlord, lawyer, and love interest. With his help, Davis must win this high stakes game before her luck runs out.

My Review

I loved this book.  It was a fun read that necessitated I suppress my laughter so as not to disturb my husband’s sleep in the early hours of the morning.  The story is told from Davis’s point of view  with a great deal of candor.  She is smart, but she has made a lot of stupid moves in the past, and she knows it.  She gets herself into trouble. A lot. Still she somehow manages to come through unscathed.  And the author leveraged the casino setting to create  quirky characters and absurd situations.  The plot is interesting and the culprits remain a mystery until almost the end.  Is the storyline entirely believable? No. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment one bit.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book free of charge. This has not affected the content of my review.

About the Series

The Davis Way Crime Caper series includes:

Review: TRUDY, MADLY, DEEPLY by Wendy Delaney

I recently curled up and read Trudy, Madly, Deeply, the first of Wendy Delaney’s Working Stiffs mysteries.  Released in 2015, it is the first book in what has blossomed into a four-book series.

TrulyDescription (from Amazon)

After human lie detector Charmaine Digby scores a job as the County Coroner’s new investigative assistant, the unthinkable happens—a doctor reports the suspicious death of Trudy, a family friend and one of several elderly patients at the hospital whose heart mysteriously stopped.

With no physical evidence of foul play, Char’s on the case, much to the irritation of Detective Steve Sixkiller, who doesn’t want her to stick her pretty nose for trouble in his investigation. But she’s a woman on a mission to uncover the truth, and she’d better keep her eyes open or the next body on the way to the morgue could be hers.

My Review

In this entertaining cozy mystery, a recent divorcee is starting over – in both her career and her personal life. Trudy is thrilled about landing a job at the Coroner’s office, and plans to put her lie detection skills to good use.  When she gets wind of a rash of suspicious deaths involving the elderly, she is relentless in her efforts to find out what’s happening.  Trudy is quick to jump to conclusions, but quick to change her mind when the evidence proves her wrong, again and again, until she figures out who is actually responsible. A fairly fast-paced plot, with elements of flirtation and budding romance, make this a fun and somewhat humorous read.

Review & Giveaway: OLD BONES NEVER DIE by Lesley A. Diehl

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I recently had the pleasure of reading Old Bones Never Die,  the fifth book in the Eve Appel Mystery series.  It was my first time reading a book by this author; it probably won’t be the last.

Description

old-bones-never-dieJust before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he’d unearthed their missing father’s pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear.

Now Sammy and his brother’s three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator.

Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen’s resort. Was Walter’s death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy’s father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book. I found Eve to be likable, spunky and determined and she is surrounded by an amazingly diverse cast of family and friends, including an energetic and loving grandmother,  her Native American friends and romantic interest, to a Mafia mob boss, and a close friend who happens to be a police officer. And they all rally around to help her solve the case. It was a light, fast moving read, with enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. The solution to the mystery was not predictable (always a plus), and the story came to a satisfying solution. I also enjoyed the glimpse into Miccosukee heritage and the descriptions of  Southern Florida, with its swamps, weather and wildlife. And kudos to the author for the subtle education of readers regarding issues surrounding construction and Native American burial grounds.

Note: Although this book is part of a series, it can definitely be enjoyed as a standalone. This was my first time reading anything by this author.

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

Old Bones Don’t Die is available on Amazon.
(An excerpt appears near the end of this post.)

Giveaway

Click here to enter a Rafflecopter for a chance to win your choice of any one of the Eve Appel books (ebook) from the author.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

Connect with Lesley:

An Excerpt from Old Bones Never Die

Prologue
The morning air was cold, but once the sun rose over the levee, its heat penetrated the construction site and brought with it the humidity of south central Florida. The backhoe operator paused to remove his sweatshirt and push his thick, black hair away from his face, then moved the levers of the machine forward so that the mouth of the bucket opened, showing its large metal teeth. Another move of the lever lowered the bucket. The teeth bit into the black dirt of the Big Lake basin.

The operator felt the assessing gaze of the foreman, who stood at the side of the pit, his hardhat pushed back on his forehead. New to the job, Walter Egret was skilled, but he knew he’d been hired by the company against the foreman’s wishes. As a Miccosukee, his work would be scrutinized more closely than that of others employed by Coastal Development Company and its construction arm, Gator Way. The foreman’s constant surveillance bothered him, but not as much as the feeling that someone else watched him from the cover of the sabal palms that stood at the edge of the property. He’d felt a shadowy presence there for several days. It was probably nothing, but today he would take a walk over to the trees during his lunch break.

This land now being readied for a sportsman’s retreat had once belonged to his people, but legal maneuvering by slick lawyers deeded it away from the tribe into the developers’ hands. Walter didn’t like to think about that too much. Being a backhoe operator was a job, a way for him to support his three boys. He dumped the bucket of dirt and maneuvered the machine back to bite the earth again. This time the bucket picked up debris lighter colored than the soil. Probably some buried tree limbs, he thought, halting the rise of the bucket. Huh. Looked like bones from some animal, maybe a cow. Lotta bones.

Continue reading

Review: MURDER AT AN IRISH WEDDING by Carlene O’Connor

I enjoy reading cozy mysteries set in faraway places, so I didn’t hesitate to download Murder at an Irish Wedding, the latest release in the Irish Village Mystery series by Carlene O’Conner.

IrishWeddingDescription (from Amazon)

The O’Sullivan clan of Country Cork, Ireland, are thrilled to be catering the matrimonial affairs of a celebrity couple — until a cunning killer turns an Irish wedding into an Irish wake…

Any wedding is a big deal in the small village of Kilbane—even more so when the bride is a famous fashion model. It’s also good for business. Not only has customer traffic picked up at Naomi’s Bistro, Siobhán O’Sullivan and her five siblings have a full plate catering for the three-day affair. And Siobhán’s own beau, local garda Macdara Flannery, gladly steps in as best man after the groom’s first choice makes a drunken arse out of himself.

Even if he hadn’t been disinvited to the wedding, the original best man wouldn’t have been able to show. He’s been found murdered in the woods, casting a pall over the nuptials. And when a second member of the wedding party is poisoned by a champagne flute engraved with Macdara’s name, the garda goes from being best man to prime suspect.

With a killer at large and a string of robberies plaguing Kilbane, Siobhán feels more than a little protective of her village. She vows to clear Macdara’s name, but the suspect list is as long as the guest list. Like the bride walking down the aisle, Siobhán needs to watch her step. For as she gets closer to unveiling the truth, the murderer is planning a very chilly reception for her . . .

My Review

Having read the first book in this series, Murder in an Irish Village, I  looked forward to getting reacquainted with Siobhán and her siblings, and getting another glimpse into the fictional Irish village, its people and customs. Siobhán is a strong-minded young woman who is not easily deterred in her efforts to prove Macdara’s innocence and find out who killed the best man, and why. The members of the wedding party are a diverse crowd, with complex relationships between them.  At times, Siobhan’s actions seem a bit ill-advised and far-fetched, but are in keeping with her character’s sometimes impulsive and pushy nature. It was also interesting to watch her relationship with Macdara develop. The story moved along at a steady pace, with bits of suspense and romance mixed in. Unfortunately, the writing was not as polished as in the first in series. Nonetheless, it made for an enjoyable weekend read.

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

Note: My review of Murder in an Irish Village appeared on this blog last year.

Review: THE CUTAWAY by Christina Kovac

Change of pace today.  I recently had the pleasure of reading an ARC of The Cutaway by Christina Kovac – a very well written novel set in one of my favorite cities – Washington, D.C.

Description (from Amazon)

51aosxjiyulWhen brilliant TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a disturbing “MISSING” notice on her desk related to the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, she can’t seem to shake the image from her head. Despite skepticism from her colleagues, Knightly suspects this ambitious young lawyer may be at the heart of something far more sinister, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Yet, as the only woman of power at her station, Knightly quickly finds herself investigating on her own.

Risking her career, her life, and perhaps even her own sanity, Knightly dives deep into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics in an investigation that will drag her mercilessly through the inextricable webs of corruption that bind the press, the police, and politics in our nation’s capital.

My Review

Wow. I really enjoyed this book. Virginia is a journalist and her curiosity and  determination to seek the truth are natural responses when faced with the perplexing circumstances of a young woman’s death. With an eye for detail, her first-person descriptions of scenes and atmosphere are vivid. You are there with her. Virginia  is idealistic; she wants to find the truth and see the guilty brought to justice.  She gains access to all the right people but their stories don’t mesh, leaving her uncertain whom she can trust. The plot was intricate and well developed, with an abundance of twists. Every time I thought I knew who the culprit was, some new tidbit of information came along casting doubt on my suspicions. And, another big plus, the storyline and its resolution were believable.  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future books from this author.

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

Review: WHO WE ARE INSTEAD by Kyla Stone

As some people may have noticed I’ve been expanding my reading horizons lately.  Today’s book is neither mystery or romance. Who We are Instead is a coming of age novel about two sisters, difficult family relationships, and emotional scars.

Description (from Amazon)

whoinsteadTwenty-one-year-old Lena McKenna thought she escaped her past when she earned a photography scholarship to a top university. It’s been two years since she’s been home. Two years since she’s seen her troubled younger sister Lux or set foot in the house haunted by the memories of her dead mother.

Everything changes the day her father suffers a massive heart attack. Lena rushes home, only to discover that Lux has disappeared. Lena has no choice but to put her dreams on hold to find her sister and care for her dying father. Immersed in the memories of her childhood, she begins to uncover the long-buried secrets that broke her family. 

Eighteen-year-old Lux doesn’t want to remember. Nothing keeps the dark at bay, not her new drug-dealing boyfriend or her descent into reckless self-destruction. She’ll do anything to forget. Anything.

As their father’s condition worsens, Lux leaves a trail of devastation in her wake. Lena must choose: escape her past and leave her sister behind, or turn and face the demons threatening to destroy them both.

Who We Are Instead explores the volatile relationship between sisters and the way we blur the lines between loyalty and obligation, truth and deception, honor and betrayal.

My Review

This is a well-written, moving tale that provides a candid look at troubled family relationships.  The first-person narrative alternates between Lina and Lux’s point of view, providing insight into the differences in how they see things. Both Lena and Lux are struggling in their own ways as they face their father’s imminent death. They each remember different things from their childhood and have secrets they share with no0ne – not even each other. Lux uses substance abuse and ‘hook-ups’ to escape, she swears a lot, and lashes out at friends. Her stream of conscious style narrative highlights her mood swings and growing dependence on drugs. Lena wants to help her, but has no idea how to heal their relationship. As the story progresses, both characters learn about themselves and strive to heal their emotional scars.

The author takes on tough issues in this book – dysfunctional families, betrayal, drug abuse, and suicide. For this reason, although this book might be suitable for some mature YA readers, I am not sure I would recommend it for most teens.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author. This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

News FlashWho We Are Instead is on sale for $0.99 for limited time only!

Review: TELL ME NO LIES by Lynn Chandler Willis

I recently read  Tell Me No Lies – the first book in the Ava Logan mystery series by Lynn Chandler Willis.  As followers of this blog already know, I read a lot of mysteries and enjoy trying books by new authors (or who are at least new to me).  This was a great choice.

tellnoliesDescription (from Amazon)

Ava Logan, single mother and small business owner, lives deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, where poverty and pride reign. As publisher of the town newspaper, she’s busy balancing election season stories and a rash of ginseng thieves. And then the story gets personal. After her friend is murdered, Ava digs for the truth all the while juggling her two teenage children, her friend’s orphaned toddler, and her own muddied past. Faced with threats against those closest to her, Ava must find the killer before she, or someone she loves, ends up dead.

Review

An extremely enjoyable and well-written read. The first-person, conversational tone made me feel as if Ava was a friend of mine – telling me her story.  She is easy to identify with – a caring mother with a complicated past of her own that shapes her decision making.  You can feel her attachment to Ivy growing, and know she would do whatever she can help ensure the child’s safety and future well-being.  At the same time, her feelings of guilt over something in her past keep her from truly giving her heart to either of her love interests in the story. This mystery was well crafted; its intricate plot held lots of surprises and kept me guessing right to the end. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for future books in this series.

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

Review: THE BLUE HOUSE IN BISHOP by Sunanda J. Chatterjee

I was looking for something “different” to read and The Blue House in Bishop by Sunanda  J. Chatterjee caught my eye.  It promised elements of mystery and romantic suspense,  a unique storyline and a taste of a different culture.  And it delivered.

Description (from Amazon)

bluehousecoverA broken soldier with a past, a doctor with a secret, an ex-cop with a mission, and a mysterious woman must fight a drug lord and the FBI to find justice.

After an accident, ex-Special Forces Capt. Duke Wilcox is forced to recover in the house of his old college roommate, Dr. Sunil Samant. Haunted by his failed mission and failed marriage, Duke has lost his trust in women and yearns for a chance to redeem himself.

Indian Police Inspector Alisha Raj has a passion for bringing criminals to justice. After leaving the police force with a broken heart, she agrees to an “arranged marriage” with Sunil. But it is an unusual proposal; Sunil asks Alisha to pretend to be his fiancée to please his dying mother.

Alisha comes to Bishop to leave her past behind, only to fall hopelessly in love with Duke. But she is engaged to Sunil, whose mother is expected to visit any day. The attraction seems mutual, but Duke’s troubled past prevents him from opening his heart.

Everything changes when a mysterious woman shows up with a baby, seeking Sunil’s help. But is this woman who she claims to be? Why is the FBI after her? And how is she involved with a Colombian Drug lord?

A story of loyalty, camaraderie, and love, The Blue House in Bishop brings four strangers together in a fight for survival.

My Review

I enjoyed this book.  Its intricate plot crosses over between genres –  the result is romantic suspense with the undertones of an intriguing crime thriller.  Somehow the author managed to weave together the stories of four very different characters, each carrying their own emotional burdens and/or memories from the past. Both Sunil and Alisha are strong and likeable characters – they live in the modern world, yet retain respect for their cultural heritage and traditions.  Strangers when they first arrive at the Blue House, the relationships between Sunil, Duke, Alisha and the mystery woman are complicated and sort themselves out as the secrets are divulged and the mystery is resolved.  This fast-paced story held my attention from start to finish.

Note:  If you are easily offended by strong language or graphic sex, this book might not be your cup of tea.

Review: COLOR ME DEAD by Teresa Trent

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As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours, today I’m happy to tell you about Color Me Dead (Henry Park Book 1), a new cozy mystery by Teresa Trent.

colormedeadcoverDescription

Artist Gabby Wolfe has the ability to see not only the beauty of the living, but the despair of the dead. When she returns to her childhood home in Henry Park, Colorado, she is forced to bring along her younger brother Mitch. He is on a “break” from college where he was majoring in wine, women and song. If that isn’t enough they also have Mitch’s rambunctious beagle Luigi along who prefers to spend his days wallowing in junk food. When Gabby draws the death of a young woman before it happens, she knows she must tell someone and risk a new job and her professional credibility. Will she reveal her secret in time to save the woman in the water or will it be too late?

Note: For the duration of this blog tour (Jan. 23-27), Color Me Dead is free on Amazon !

My Review

Like most cozy mysteries, this was a light read. Actually, I enjoyed it more than I expected. Not usually a fan of paranormal tales, the author had this reader almost suspending disbelief and accepting Gabby and her psychic powers at face value. The mystery surrounding her vision is intricate, and the motivation and identity of the killer were far from obvious. It is easy to relate to Gabby as she rediscovers Henry Park, establishes new friendships, and embarks on a new stage in her career.  A fast-paced read, I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish it.

About the Author

teresatrentTeresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

Author Links:

Purchase Link  – Amazon 

Review: BOOMER’S BUCKET LIST by Sue Pethick

I don’t quite know why but dogs on the cover seem to be tugging on my heartstrings and calling out to me lately.  Alright, I admit it. They always do. But lately even more than usual.  And the cover definitely factored into my decision to read Boomer’s Bucket List.

boomerDescription (from Amazon)

When her cuddly canine companion Boomer is diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Jennifer Westbrook decides to take a leave of absence from her busy PR job—and take Boomer on the greatest road trip of his life.

Charting a course from Chicago to California, Jennifer plans some pet-friendly pit stops for her four-legged friend, including a dog show, a fire hydrant museum, and a factory full of squeaky toys. But when she tries to sneak Boomer into a NASCAR press box—disguised as her seeing-eye dog—Jennifer’s cover is blown by a curious, but very cute reporter named Nathan Koslow.

Boomer takes an instant shine to Nathan, unlike the other men in Jennifer’s life. When the charming journalist asks to join them on their journey, she can’t say no. But when she learns that someone has created a website called “Boomer’s Bucket List”—and it’s gone totally viral—the trip takes a wildly unexpected turn for Jennifer, Nathan, and the dog who brought them together.

It almost seems as if Boomer’s last wish is that his two favorite humans fall madly, deeply, in love . . .

My Review

An enjoyable light romance featuring a loveable and furry matchmaker. Boomer is delightful. You can almost visualize his antics and expressions, and his antics will make you laugh. And Jennifer is truly devoted to her dog – not many dog owners would take time off from work to spend time with their dog. Nathan, the man Boomer seems to have chosen for Jennifer, is a good guy who is at a crossroads in his career. The road trip and budding relationship with Caroline cause him to reflect on his past actions and future goals.  Although the outcome is foreseeable, unlike most romance novels, the ending is bittersweet. Make sure you have a tissue on hand.

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

Boomer’s Bucket List is available from Amazon.