Review & Giveaway: BITTER ALPINE by Mary Daheim

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Bitter Alpine, a new release by Mary Daheim.

About the Book

New year, new murder . . . Emma Lord is on the case when death finds its way back to the wintry mountain town of Alpine.

BITTER-ALPINEAfter a relatively calm and cozy holiday season, neither Emma Lord, editor and publisher of The Alpine Advocate, nor her husband, Sheriff Milo Dodge, are surprised when their new year gets off to a rocky start. A woman’s body has been found in a squalid motel. Her driver’s license shows that Dawn Purvis was in her late thirties and lived in Weaverville, California—and the only connection between that town and Alpine is their gold-mining and logging origins. When they discover that Dawn’s room reservation was open-ended, Emma, Milo, and the ever-inquisitive Advocate receptionist, Alison Lindahl, are more than mildly curious. And never mind that the youthful Alison is a bit distracted by the new county extension agent’s virile good looks. She can still sleuth while she stalks her newest crush.

But that’s not all the news that’s unfit to print. There’s something strange about the older couple who have moved into the cabin down the road that was once owned by a murder victim. The elderly wife seems anti-social. There’s got to be a reason, which Emma, Milo, and Alison intend to find out—even if it puts them in deadly danger.’

My Review

Emma Lord runs the local newspaper in a quaint resort town in Washington state, giving her a natural instinct for tracking down a story and rooting out the truth about the identity of the deceased and the reasons that led to her demise.  Emma is married to the Sheriff, who sometimes shares info and sometimes doesn’t.  This was the first time I read anything by this author, and perhaps I would have appreciated the characters more if I had read earlier books and they had been “old friends” of mine – despite the sprinkling of references to previous murders/cases in Emma’s past.  Although the pace of the narrative was steady, I’d have liked to see more tension/action. This is a read mostly likely to be enjoyed by fans of the Emma Lord mysteries who will enjoy the trip down memory lane.

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

Giveaway

Click to enter a rafflecopter giveaway for chance to win a digital copy of Bitter Alpine.

About the Author

MARY-DAHEIMMary Daheim is the author of the Alpine mystery series. A Seattle native with a degree in communication from the University of Washington, she realized at an early age that getting a book published might elude her for years, so she began her writing career working on daily newspapers. The mother of three daughters, she lives in a century-old house in her hometown.

Author Website – https://www.marydaheimauthor.com/
Purchase Links – Amazon  –   B&N   –   Kobo

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Review & Giveaway: THE NUTCRACKER CONSPIRACY by Lauren Carr

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As part of a virtual tour organized by IREAD Book Tours, I was recently offered the opportunity to read and review a pre-release copy of The Nutcracker Conspiracy.  Having read and enjoyed previous books by Lauren Carr, I was happy to sign up for this tour.

Recently released, The Nutcracker Conspiracy is the fourth book  in the Thorny Rose Mystery Series.

About the Book

The-Nutcracker-Conspiracy-AmazonThree years ago, the nation gasped in horror when the President of the United States barely escaped an assassination attempt that left two dead—the vice president’s wife and assassin. Even after numerous investigations proving otherwise, conspiracy theorists still argue that the would-be assassin was acting on orders from the CIA, FBI, and every federal agency within a hundred miles of the capital and the government was involved in a massive cover-up.

An aspiring author, Dean Conway is the last person with whom Lieutenant Commander Murphy Thornton USN wanted to spend his Saturday afternoon when they end up at the same wedding reception table. While their wives tend to bridesmaid duties, Murphy is trapped listening to Dean’s latest unfinished work-in-project—completing the manuscript of an unknown investigative journalist who’d disappeared months earlier.

“She was number twelve you know,” Dean says.

“Twelve?” Murphy asks while looking for someone, anyone, to offer him an escape.

“Twelve witnesses connected to or investigating the assassination have died either in an accident or suicide.”

Two days later, Dean Conway dies suddenly, but not before sending a text message to Murphy. “13.”

About the Thorny Rose Mystery Series

The previous books in the Thorny Rose Series:

  • Kill and Run
    Kill and RunFive women with seemingly nothing in common are found brutally murdered in a townhome outside Washington, DC. Among the many questions surrounding the massacre is what had brought these apparent strangers together only to be killed.Taking on his first official murder case, Lieutenant Murphy Thornton, USN, believes that if he can uncover the thread connecting the victims, then he can find their murderer.The case takes an unexpected turn when Murphy discovers that one of the victims has a connection to his stepmother, Homicide Detective Cameron Gates. One wintry night, over a dozen years before, her first husband, a Pennsylvania State trooper, had been run down while working a night shift on the turnpike.In this first installment of the Thorny Rose Mysteries, the Lovers in Crime join newlyweds Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday to shift through a web of lies and cover-ups. Together, can the detectives of the Thorny Rose uncover the truth without falling victim to a cunning killer?
  • A Fine Year for Murder
    Fine Year for MurderAfter ten months of marital bliss, Jessica Faraday and Murphy Thornton are still discovering and adjusting to their life together. Settled in their new home, everything appears to be perfect … except in the middle of the night when, in the darkest shadows of her subconscious, a deep secret from Jessica’s past creeps to the surface to make her strike out at Murphy.When investigative journalist Dallas Walker tells the couple about her latest case, known as the Pine Bridge Massacre, they realize Jessica may have witnessed the murder of a family while visiting family at the winery near-by, and suppressed the memory.
    Determined to uncover the truth and find justice for the murder victims, Jessica and Murphy return to the scene of the crime with Dallas Walker, a spunky bull-headed Texan. Can this family reunion bring closure for a community touched by tragedy or will this prickly get-together bring an end to the Thorny Rose couple?
  • Murder by Perfection
    murderperfecBeware: Perfection has a dark side!
    Frustrated with their busy schedules, Murphy Thornton and Jessica Faraday attempt to find togetherness by scheduling a weekly date night. The last thing Jessica Faraday expected for her date night was to take a couple’s gourmet cooking course at the Stepford Kitchen Studio, owned by Chef Natalie Stepford―the model of perfection in looks, home, and business.When Natalie ends up dead and Murphy goes missing, the Thorny Rose detectives must peel back the layers of Natalie Stepford’s life to discover that the pursuit of perfection can be deadly.

All of the books in the series are available on Amazon.

My Review

Another well written cozy thriller featuring the Thorntons and the Faradays.  Why do I call it a cozy thriller? It has all the elements of page-turning thriller – an intricate plot, tension, action, and such – with the antics of several quirky canines, including a  kleptomaniac and a TV remote hog,  providing a light, humorous touch not typically found in thrillers or hard-boiled mysteries.

Of course, the plot wouldn’t be same without the two-legged characters. Jessica’s loyalty to her friends is admirable and is reflected in her determination to prove her friends’ innocence of wrong doing.  A naval officer,  Murphy is clearly devoted both to his wife and to his job.  He is skeptical about the conspiracy theory put forth by Dean, however as events unfold he realizes that something is up – not everything is what it seems to be.  He has ties within different branches of the intelligence community and leverages those ties in his search for the truth. Both Jessica and Murphy are good, likable people and it was nice to spend time with them again.

The author did a great job of creating an intricate story, with interesting twists and  subplots.  A very enjoyable read.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an Advance Review Copy of this book from the publisher.  This has not affected the content of this review. 

If you’d like to read my review of Kill and Run (the first book in the series), click here.

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of Lauren Carr, author of THE NUTCRACKER CONSPIRACY.

About the Author

2018_lauren_carr_picLauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, Chris Matheson Cold Case, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty-five titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!

Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor.

​A popular speaker, Lauren is also the owner of Acorn Book Service, the umbrella under which falls iRead Book Tours. She lives with her husband and two spoiled rotten German Shepherds on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

Connect with the author: Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram 

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Review: REST IN PIECES by Katie Graykowski

Browsing the endless list of titles on my Kindle that I had yet to read, I came across a book that I downloaded a long time ago.  It’s not a new release, but Rest in Pieces by Katie Graykowski made for a fun diversion.

Description

restinpiecesMustang Ridges isn’t a town, a stripper, or some old western movie. She’s a feisty, single mom living in the small town of Lakeside, Texas where money does buy happiness and keeping up appearances is much more important than the truth. Six months ago on her thirtieth birthday, her husband decided that married life, fatherhood, and his job as the Lakeside Chief of Police weren’t as exciting as a permanent vacation to Grand Cayman with his mistress and a million dollars in diamonds he stole from the police evidence lockup.

Mustang is a pariah in a Lakeside full of piranha. But she refuses to leave—this is her home, and she figures that if she can’t join them, then she’ll beat them at their own game. With a little luck, some intimidation, and the help of her good friends Monica and Haley, Mustang presides over her own little slice of Lakeside, the Bee Creek Elementary Parent Teacher Organization.

All is quiet in Lakeside until Molly Miars, the kindergarten teacher, is found dead. According to the new police chief, she overdosed on heroin. That doesn’t explain why her head was the only body part to make it to her funeral. Mustang and her fellow PTOers don’t buy the heroin overdose for a second.

Vowing to do right by Molly, the PTO decides to investigate.

Quickly they find that Lakeside isn’t the quiet, sleepy town it appears to be. There is a dark side—money laundering and drug trafficking. When Mustang’s name turns up on a contract killer’s hit list, things go from bad to worse. Can she and the PTO stay alive long enough to find out who killed Molly Miars?

My Review

Mustang, Monica, and Haley (dare I say, partners in crime)  make for a unique team of sleuths. The three women are great friends and fellow members of the local Parent-Teacher Organization, with all of the associated drama. And they all knew the victim. They manage to find their way into some pretty far-fetched, yet humorous situations as they try to discover what happened to Molly. The story moved along at a nice pace, with enough twists to keep you wondering what might happen next and, of course, who the killer might be. Although Mustang succeeded in uncovering Molly’s killer, some of the questions raised were left unanswered, presumably to be addressed in the next book in the series.  It was a lively, enjoyable read.

Content advisory:  Although it didn’t bother me, this book does include slightly more graphic content and stronger language than the average cozy mystery. 

Review: MURDER, CURLERS, AND CREAM by Arlene McFarlane

After a particularly stressful week, I was looking for something fun to read. After all, sometimes we all need to escape for a few hours.  And so I dove into Murder, Curlers, and Cream by Arlene McFarlane.  Its the first of four books in the Valentine Beaumont Mystery Series.

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Valentine Beaumont is a beautician with a problem. Not only has she got a meddling mother, a wacky staff, and a dying business, but now she’s got a dead client who was strangled while awaiting her facial.

With business the way it is, combing through this mystery may be the only way to save her salon. Until a second murder, an explosion, a kidnapping, death threats, and the hard-nosed Detective Romero complicate things. But Valentine will do anything to untangle the crime. That’s if she can keep her tools of the trade in her bag, keep herself alive, and avoid falling for the tough detective.

In the end, how hard can that be?

My Review

From the book’s opening sentence (“You wound a perm rod around a man’s what?”), two things became clear:  1) Valentine is a different kind of sleuth and  2) this would be an entertaining read.  And it was. I laughed a lot.  Valentine has a knack for improvising when she’s in a predicament.  Even though she is quite ditsy and does some stupid things, she is likeable.  She is a good person.  Even Detective Romero, the enigmatic hot detective, likes her – lending an element of romantic suspense to the story.  The murder mystery was laid out nicely, developing at a good pace, and the identity of the culprit was divulged only as the story neared its end.

If you’re looking for a serious literary read, look elsewhere.  If you’re looking for an  entertaining escape – this book is for you.

The book is available on Amazon.

About the Author

Arlene McFarlane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Murder, Curlers series. Previously an aesthetician, hairstylist, and owner of a full-service salon, Arlene now writes full-time. She’s also an accomplished pianist and makeover artist. When time allows, she plays publicly and posts makeovers on her website.

Review & Giveaway: BOOKMARKED FOR MURDER by V.M. Burns

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As part of a blog tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Bookmarked for Murder, the 5th book in the Mystery Bookshop series by V.M. Burns.

About the Book

Amateur sleuth Samantha Washington’s shopping trip to Chicago takes a deadly detour when a man is murdered on her bus . . .
 
BOOKMARKED FOR MURDERAfter some post-Christmas retail therapy in the Windy City, mystery bookshop owner and historical whodunit novelist Sam Washington is returning home to North Harbor, Michigan, on a chartered bus. With Nana Jo and her gal pals Irma, Dorothy, and Ruby Mae from Shady Acres Retirement Village along for the ride, it’s a lively trip. But one passenger is not so lively—a gentleman Irma befriended is found dead in his seat after an unscheduled stop. The ladies immediately shift gears to find out who punched his ticket, while Sam slips into the driver’s seat to make sure Nana Jo and her crew steer clear of fatal conclusions . . .

My Review

When Sam (Samantha) joins her grandmother and her friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Home on a trip to the windy city,  a passenger is killed on the return trip.   With the help of her Nana Jo and the quirky residents of the retirement home,  Sam is determined to find out who killed the well-known author and why.

Sam is a likeable character and I identified with her ambition to write. Sam is also working on writing her own mystery, so you get another mystery as Sam works on her book at regular intervals.  Personally, I found the additional mystery somewhat distracting; I think it slowed the overall pace of the book.

Although this is the fifth book in the Mystery Bookshop series it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone.

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 $20 Amazon gift card from the author.

About the Author

62CV.M. Burns was born in Northwestern Indiana and spent many years in Southwestern Michigan on the Lake Michigan shoreline. She is a lover of dogs, British historic cozies, and scones with clotted cream. After many years in the Midwest, she went in search of milder winters and currently lives in Eastern Tennessee with her poodles. Her debut novel, The Plot is Murder was nominated for a 2017 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and a lifetime member of  Sisters in Crime. Readers can learn more by visiting her website at vmburns.com

Author Links:

Purchase Links – Amazon –  Barnes & Noble – IndieBound  – Books-A-Million –  Hudson BooksellersKobo

 

 

Review & Giveaway: DIVORCE IS MURDER by Elka Ray

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As part of a blog tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions, I recently read Divorce is Murder by Elka Ray.

About the Book

After returning to her quiet hometown to care for her ailing mom, divorce lawyer Toby Wong is hired by Josh Barton, a guy who broke her heart as a teen at summer camp. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Josh wants to divorce Tonya, the mean girl who tormented Toby all those years ago. When Tonya is found murdered, Josh is the prime suspect.

divorceismurder_cover JPEGTogether with her fortune-teller mom and her pregnant best friend, Toby sets out to clear Josh, whom she still has a guilty crush on. As she delves deeper into Tonya’s murder, Toby keeps running into catty ex-campers she’d rather forget. Are her old insecurities making her paranoid? Only too late does she realize she’s in danger.

The first entry in an addictive new series, Divorce is Murder introduces fans of mystery and romance to an irresistibly smart and sarcastic new heroine – Chinese Canadian divorce lawyer Toby Wong.

You can get your copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

My Review

This was a quick and enjoyable read. Toby is a likeable young woman, however she has a hard time putting the past behind her.  Her world is turned upside – emotionally anyway – when a guy she used to like hires her to handle his divorce.  Memories of a traumatic incident at summer camp years before surface and are integrated into the story in stages, each time providing a bit more insight into Toby’s insecurities. At the same time, in the present, she is faced with the challenge of proving that Josh isn’t a killer while tackling her own conflicted feelings.  She has an amazing friend in Quinn and her quirky  mother provides a whimsical touch.  The mystery side of the story was well paced,  with tension, twists and turns leading to an unexpected resolution.   A promising start to a new series.  

FTC Disclosure: I received an advance review copy of this book. This has not affected my opinion as expressed in this review. 

Giveaway

The author is awarding a $15 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click here to enter the rafflecopter.

About the Author

Born in the UK, and raised in Africa and Canada, Elka now lives in Central Vietnam. She’s the author of two novels, a short story collection and three kids’ books that she also illustrated. To learn more about Elka’s upcoming projects, please visit http://www.elkaray.com

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Review & Giveaway: GALLIANO GOLD by Traci Andrighetti

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As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently had the pleasure of reading Galliano Gold by Tracy Andrighetti, the fifth book in her successful Franki Amato mystery series.

About the Book

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It’s Mardi Gras season in New Orleans, but PI Franki Amato has too many problems to celebrate. A proven Sicilian lemon tradition hasn’t landed her a proposal, so her nonna has amped up the meddling to get her married, and pronto. Franki’s also under pressure to solve the strange murder of a family friend’s nephew, Nick Pescatore, who was found on a Mississippi River steamboat rumored to be haunted. When the sinister old boat sets sail on an overnight gambling cruise, Franki goes undercover with a motley crew, including a Mark Twainophile captain with a murderous past and a slimy galley chef with a mobster brother, not to mention an ex-stripper landlady with a newfound career as a memoir writer and all-too public speaker. Franki has to figure out what missing Civil War gold, a playing card, and a mysterious woman on roller skates have to do with Nick’s death. If she doesn’t, it’s anchors aweigh for Franki—down to Davy Jones’ locker.

My Review

Set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, this is a humorous mystery with a delightful cast of quirky characters.  A crazy chain of events is triggered when Franki is hired to find Luigi’s missing nephew, leading her to go undercover as a kitchen hand on the “haunted” Galliano Gold.  Franki’s adventures may not be realistic but they are definitely entertaining.  And I loved the touch of Italian flavor – complete with a meddling grandmother – determined to see Franki married off despite her tendency to fly in the face of old-world Italian traditions.

My first time reading anything by this author. I just might go back and read the earlier books in the series.

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

Giveaway

Enter a rafflecopter for your change to win a New Orleans-themed mystery book box (U.S. only) from the author.

About the Author

Traci-Andrighetti-11bTraci Andrighetti is the USA TODAY bestselling author of the Franki Amato Mysteries and the Danger Cove Hair Salon Mysteries. In her previous life, she was an award-winning literary translator and a Lecturer of Italian at the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics. But then she got wise and ditched that academic stuff for a life of crime–writing, that is. Her latest capers are teaching mystery writing for Savvy Authors and taking aspiring and established authors on intensive writing retreats to Italy with LemonLit.

Author Links

Buy the Book:   Amazon. 

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Review & Excerpt: STRANDS OF TRUTH by Colleen Coble

As part of a virtual tour organized by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours, today’s post introduces Strands of Truth by Colleen Coble.

About the Book

cover-Strands-of-TruthStrands of Harper Taylor’s childhood are resurfacing—but will the truth save her … or pull her under?

Harper Taylor is used to being alone— after all, she grew up in one foster home after another. Oliver Jackson finally took her under his wing when she was a runaway teenager, and now Harper pours her marine biology knowledge into Oliver’s pen shell research. But she’s never stopped wishing for a family of her own.

So when a DNA test reveals a half-sister living just two hours away, Harper is both hopeful and nervous. Over warm cinnamon rolls, Harper and Annabelle find striking similarities in their stories. Is it just a coincidence that both their mothers died tragically, without revealing Harper and Annabelle’s father’s name?

Oliver’s son Ridge still sees Harper as a troubled teen even all these years later. But when Oliver is attacked, Ridge and Harper find themselves working together to uncover dangerous secrets that threaten to destroy them all. They must unravel her past before they can have any hope for the future.

Scroll down to the end of this post to read an excerpt.

My Review

Despite her successful career, Harper longs to find family and turns to DNA testing to track down possible relatives.  The results of her search are interwoven into an interesting story with a complex plot that exposes the reader to the world of marine biology and the intricacies of sea silk production.

As a fan of clean romance and mysteries, romantic suspense is one of my go-to reading choices. As a mystery, Strands of Truth ticks all the checkboxes – murder, attempted murder, threats, and more, with  surprises and twists along the way.  As for the romantic side of things, I enjoyed Harper and Ridge’s interactions – though at times it did seem they protested a bit too much with regard to their growing mutual attraction.  It was fun to watch their relationship evolve.

This was my first time reading anything by this author; it probably won’t be the last.

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

About the Author

Coble-ColleenColleen Coble is a USA TODAY bestselling author and RITA finalist best known for her coastal romantic suspense novels, including The Inn at Ocean’s Edge, Twilight at Blueberry Barrens, and the Lavender Tides, Sunset Cove, Hope Beach, and Rock Harbor series.

Connect with Colleen online at:

Buy links: 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Excerpt

Prologue

January 1990

St. Petersburg, Florida

Lisa ran to her Datsun Bluebird and jerked open the yellow door. Her pulse strummed in her neck, and she glanced behind her to make sure she wasn’t being followed. She’d tried not to show fear during the confrontation, but it was all she could do not to cry. She couldn’t face life without him.

She’d been on edge ever since yesterday.

Twilight backlit the treetops and highlighted the hanging moss. Instead of finding it beautiful, she saw frightening shadows and shuddered. She slid under the wheel and started the engine, then pulled out of her driveway onto the road.

She turned toward the Gulf. The water always calmed her when she was upset—and she had crossed upset moments ago and swerved into the scared zone.

Her belly barely fit under the wheel, but this baby would be born soon, then she’d have her figure back. She accelerated away from her home, a dilapidated one-story house with peeling white paint, and switched on her headlights.

The radio blared full of the news about the Berlin Wall coming down, but Lisa didn’t care about that, not now. She switched channels until she found Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” playing, but even her favorite tune failed to sooth her shattered nerves. Could she seriously be murdered over this? She’d glimpsed madness in those eyes.

She pressed the brakes as she came to a four-way stop, but the brake pedal went clear to the floor. She gasped and pumped the pedal again. No response. The car shot through the intersection, barely missing the tail end of another vehicle that had entered it before her.

Hands gripping the steering wheel, she struggled to keep the car on the road as she frantically thought of a way to bring it to a stop that didn’t involve hitting another car or a tree. The baby in her belly kicked as if he or she knew their lives hung suspended in time.

“We’re going to make it, little one. We have to. I can’t leave you alone.” No one would love her baby if she died. Her mother couldn’t care for her child. She cared more about her drugs than anything else.

Lisa tried to tamp down her rising emotions, but she’d never been so frightened. The car fishtailed on the sandy road as she forced it back from the shoulder. Huge trees lined the pavement in a dense formation. Where could she drive off into relative safety? A field sprawled over on the right, just past the four-way stop ahead. If she made it through, it seemed the only place where they might survive.

Had the brakes been cut? What else could it be? She’d just had the car serviced.

Lisa approached the stop sign much too fast. The slight downhill slope had only accelerated the speed that hovered at nearly seventy. Her mouth went bone dry.

***

Taken from “Strands of Truth” by Colleen Coble. Copyright © 2019 by Colleen Coble. Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.


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Review & Giveaway: THE PUPPET MASTER by Ronald S. Barak

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As part of a blog tour organized by Silver Dagger Book Tours, I jumped at the chance to read Ronald Barak’s latest thriller- The Puppet Master.  The Puppet  Master is a prequel to  The Amendment Killer, an excellent novel, which I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing when it was released (click here to read that review).

Description

Puppet-Master-2018-FIN-cover-praise-s-3200x4800px-ebook_400x600What would YOU do if they took everything you had, your family, your home, your business, your dignity, even—perhaps—your sanity? Ronald S. Barak’s latest, The Puppet Master, prequel to The Amendment Killer, and the second in the Brooks/Lotello Thriller Series, is a gripping story of a political system gone awry—and those who feel compelled to fix it. “Have you ever killed anyone? I have. I’ll do it again. If I need to.” Three prominent political leaders in Washington, D.C., murdered in as many days.

Not a plausible story premise? What about the real world villain who recently mailed a series of pipe bombs to a number of prominent political figures? Ripped from the headlines? Barak gives new meaning to the word “timely.” The Puppet Master isn’t ripped from the headlines; written first, it forecast the headlines that followed!

The Puppet Master begins with a bang. Literally. Three of them. Not a page wasted. Capitol Hill panics. Who will be next? Others whisper that our political leaders are only getting what they deserve. Anxious to see who will be next. And why.

Crafty D.C. homicide detective Frank Lotello is tasked to find the killer. Cliff Norman, a local businessman with ample motive, is arrested. Politicians breathe a sigh of relief. However, when Lotello discovers a disturbing White House connection, he suspects Norman may not be what he appears to be. Things may not be what they appear to be.

Norman’s trial commences in the courtroom of savvy D.C. trial court judge Cyrus Brooks. An angry nation rallies behind Norman. The jury debates whether Norman’s actions may be legally justified by a rampant abuse of political trust, and threatens to unravel the very fabric of our dysfunctional government.

In an unprecedented and questionable manner that may destroy their respective careers, Lotello quietly approaches Brooks and they form a secret alliance to uncover the truth in this classic whodunnit mystery. Before it’s too late.

Blurring fiction and reality, The Puppet Master will have you dangling from the first page to the very last.

You can view the book trailer at: https://youtu.be/J9aV5pMUKC8.

Buy Links:

My Review

I enjoyed following  Detective Lotello as he persists in investigating the murder of three high-profile politicans – despite the confession of a bitter, broken man with a grudge.  The story is told from alternating points of view in short chapters, giving you a sense of what each of the players is going through and their deliberations, yet without being too confusing to follow.   Both Lotello and Judge Brooks are great characters – human and relatable.

The story is engaging and well-paced, while raising controversial questions regarding the potential for broader application  of the justifiable homicide defense in the courts – when does it become reasonable to take the law into your own hands?  Definitely thought-provoking stuff.

A well-written choice for fans of political thrillers and police procedurals.

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

Giveaway and More

Follow the tour for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and enter the Thriller Junkies  giveaway for your chance to win an e-book copy of the Puppet Master and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author

Ronald-S-BarakDescribed by his readers as a cross between Agatha Christie, Lee Child, and John Lescroart, bestselling author Ron Barak keeps his readers flipping the pages into the wee hours of the night. While he mostly lets his characters tell his stories, he does manage to get his licks in too.

Barak derives great satisfaction in knowing that his books not only entertain but also stimulate others to think about how things might be, how people can actually resolve real-world problems. In particular, Barak tackles the country’s dysfunctional government representatives—not just back-seat driving criticism for the sake of being a back-seat driver, but truly framing practical remedies to the political abuse and corruption adversely affecting too many people’s lives today. Barak’s extensive legal background and insight allow him to cleverly cross-pollenate his fiction and today’s sad state of political reality.

In his latest novel, THE AMENDMENT KILLER, Barak calls upon his real world legal ingenuity and skill to craft a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution criminalizing political abuse and corruption that Constitutional scholars across the country are heralding as a highly plausible answer to the political chaos destroying the very moral fiber of the country today. It’s difficult to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not imagine what could—and should—be expected and demanded of those political leaders who have forgotten they are there to serve and not be served.

Barak is also a committed and strident advocate of finding a cure for diabetes. One of the primary characters in THE AMENDMENT KILLER is the feisty and precocious 11-year-old diabetic granddaughter of the Supreme Court justice holding the swing vote in a case in which Congress is challenging the validity of Barak’s hypothetical 28th Amendment. It is no small coincidence that Barak is himself a diabetic. Or that he has committed 50% of the net proceeds of THE AMENDMENT KILLER to diabetes research and education.

Barak is singularly qualified to have authored THE AMENDMENT KILLER, which will appeal to political and legal thriller aficionados alike. Barak is a law school honors graduate and a former Olympic athlete. While still in law school, he authored a bill introduced in Congress that overnight forced the settlement of a decades long dispute between the NCAA and the AAU to control amateur athletics in the United States.

Present-day politicians would do well to read THE AMENDMENT KILLER and not underestimate the potential of Barak’s 28th Amendment. You can read his 28th Amendment at ronaldsbarak.com/28th-amendment-page-2. You can also read his occasional political blogs at ronaldsbarak.com/blog.

Ron and his wife, Barbie, and the four-legged members of their family reside in Pacific Palisades, California.

You can catch up with the author on:
Website 🔗, Goodreads 🔗, Twitter 🔗, & Facebook 🔗!

Review: WHO SHOT THE SERIF? by Jessa Archer

WHO-SHOT-THE-SERIF-BANNER-184

As part of a tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, today’s post is about the first book in a new cozy mystery series – Who Shot the Serif? by Jessa Archer.

Description

Who-Shot-the-Serif-ebook-coverWhen Jamie Lang finds one of her hand lettered quotes on the window of her shop, Flourish, with a hole shot through a serif, she knows someone’s trying to drive her business into red ink. Jamie confronts Earleen Culp, the ruthless owner of the local stationery shop, in front of the most popular breakfast spot in the small town of Cedar Valley. Of course, Earleen professes shock and innocence, so when she’s found dead in front of Jamie’s home the next morning, Jamie becomes the prime suspect.

Jamie’s one cross-stroke short of acquittal, and even her best friend has her doubts. But Jamie’s not the only one in town with a motive for wanting Earleen silenced for good. To clear her name, Jamie’s going to need every last drop of ink in her quill.

With the hot police chief Ridge, and her makeup artist friend Nora on her side, she’s prepared to go out with a flourish if that’s what it takes to catch the real murderer. She’s desperate to save her hand lettering business, but will her quest lead her right into a killer’s snare?

My Review

An enjoyable light mystery about a small-town business owner specializing in hand printing who takes on the role of amateur sleuth to prove she didn’t commit murder. The victim, Earleen, is the type of person everyone loves to hate.  Lots of people, including Jamie’s friends and neighbors, have a motive for wanting her gone.  That doesn’t stop many of the townsfolk from pointing a finger in Jamie’s direction.

The story moved along at a nice pace, with enough suspense to keep the pages turning  -though if you pay close attention, the killer might not come as a surprise to you.

Nice start to a cute series likely to please most cozy mystery fans.

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

About the Author

jessaJessa Archer writes sweet, funny, warm-hearted cozy mysteries because she loves a good puzzle and can’t stand the sight of blood. Her characters are witty, adventurous, and crafty in the nicest way. You’ll find her sleuths hand lettering inspirational quotes, trying to lower golf handicaps, enjoying a scone at a favorite teashop, knitting a sweater, or showing off a dramatic side in local theater.

Jessa’s done many things in her long career, including a stint as a journalist and practicing law. But her favorite job is spinning mysteries. She loves playing small town sleuth and transporting readers to a world where the scones are delicious, wine pairs with hand lettering, and justice always prevails.

Author Links

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JessaArcher
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jessa-archer
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19123141.Jessa_Archer
Facebook: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherFacebook
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherPinterest
Twitter: http://bit.ly/JessaArcher-Twitter
Instagram: http://bit.ly/JessaArcherInstagram
Jessa Archer Web Page: https://www.jessaarcher.com/home.html

Purchase Links

Amazon.com:
Amazon Universal Link (to all Amazon sites)

Follow the tour here for reviews, guest posts and more.