Review: SEEING RED by Sandra Brown

Nothing like a good thriller to keep me up way past my bedtime.  Seeing Red by Sandra Brown did just that.

41ws6iggcglDescription (from Amazon)

Kerra Bailey is a TV journalist hot on the trail of a story guaranteed to skyrocket her career to new heights. Twenty-five years ago, Major Franklin Trapper became a national icon when he was photographed leading a handful of survivors to safety after the bombing of a Dallas hotel. For years, he gave frequent speeches and interviews but then suddenly dropped out of the public eye, shunning all media. Now Kerra is willing to use any means necessary to get an exclusive with the Major–even if she has to secure an introduction from his estranged son, former ATF agent John Trapper.

Still seething over his break with both the ATF and his father, Trapper wants no association with the bombing or the Major. Yet Kerra’s hints that there’s more to the story rouse Trapper’s interest despite himself. And when the interview goes catastrophically awry–with unknown assailants targeting not only the Major, but also Kerra–Trapper realizes he needs her under wraps if he’s going to track down the gunmen . . . and finally discover who was responsible for the Dallas bombing.

Kerra is wary of a man so charming one moment and dangerous the next, and she knows Trapper is withholding evidence from his ATF investigation into the bombing. But having no one else to trust and enemies lurking closer than they know, Kerra and Trapper join forces to expose a sinuous network of lies and conspiracy–and uncover who would want a national hero dead.

My Review

The author weaves a well written and intriguing tale of suspense rooted in events that took the place when both of  the main characters were children, and which impacted on each of them in different ways.  Trapper’s fascination with the bombing drives him to seek answers about the persons behind the tragedy which brought about so much change in his life.  With “The Major” refusing interview requests, Kerra reaches out to his estranged son for help in obtaining access to the hero.  The result is a reluctant partnership of sorts between the two as they search for answers to difficult questions.

I found both Trapper and Kerra to be interesting and well developed characters.  The intricate plot has an abundance of twists and turns a real page-turner  with non-stop action and elements of romantic suspense and sexual tension.  Although the sexual tension enhanced the story, in my opinion, the explicit descriptions of their intimate physical interactions were somewhat gratuitous and detracted from the story.

Content Advisory:  If you are offended by strong language and explicit graphic sex, this book is not for you.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review. 

Advertisements

Review & Giveaway: GAME OF DECEIT by K. A. Davis

GameDeceitAs part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, I recently read Game of Deceit, an enjoyable mystery by Kim Davis.

DescriptionA-Game-of-Deceit-Cover_final_eBook

A father’s disappearance never solved, a mother’s secret taken to the grave, a daughter deceived…

Kathryn Landry thinks her life is just about perfect. She is the owner of a successful interior designer business in Newport Beach, California, and she has an attentive, supportive husband. But her world comes crashing down when her husband, Neil Landry, vanishes without a trace… in a situation almost identical to the disappearance of her father twenty years before.

With her father’s disappearance still a mystery, Kathryn is skeptical that the detective assigned to her case will be able to find her husband. Determined to uncover the truth, Kathryn is plunged into a world of politics, high-priced call girls and wealth. As she begins to search for her husband, a decades-old secret her mother took to the grave threatens to destroy all she holds dear. Caught up in a web of betrayals and deceit, and not knowing who to trust, Kathryn must find a way to survive as she discovers the past has a way of repeating itself.

My Review

Game of Deceit is a well written mystery.  Kathryn made for an interesting main character and it was easy to empathize with her dismay as events unfolded and with her conflicting feelings about the two men vying for her affections.  As I read the book I found myself  framing hypotheses and then revising them again and again, flip-flopping in my suspicions right along with Kathryn as the story progressed.  The pace was good and  held my attention throughout, although the resolution felt a bit rushed and was somewhat vague regarding the motivation of the main villain.  All in all, an admirable debut by a new author.

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

Purchase Links: Amazon  B&N

Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win a copy of  Game of Deceit and an Amazon gift card.

About the Author

Kim DavisKim Davis lives in Southern California with her husband, near wildfire country. During the Portola Hills fire in October 2007, she had to evacuate her two young granddaughters, one of whom has Rett Syndrome, as a wall of one hundred foot flames crept towards their home. Thankfully, due to the brave efforts of firefighters, their neighborhood was spared and no loss of life or property occurred. She was able to use that experience to write a harrowing scene in A Game of Deceit.

She writes the Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder blog and has had several children’s articles published in Cricket, Nature Friend, Skipping Stones, and the Seed of Truth magazines. Kim Davis is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

Review: CRIME SCENE by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Having read and enjoyed many of  Jonathan Kellerman’s books, I was glad to have the chance to read a pre-release copy of  Crime Scene, co-authored with his son, Jesse Kellerman.  It was an enjoyable read.

Description (from Amazon)

51j3newt8qlNatural causes or foul play? That’s the question Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat—not until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor, done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that her father has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

What emerges is a history of scandal and violence, and an experiment gone horribly wrong that ended in the brutal murder of a coed. Walter Rennert, it appears, was a broken man—and maybe a marked one. And when Clay learns that a colleague of Rennert’s died in a nearly identical manner, he begins to question everything in the official record.

All the while, his relationship with Tatiana is evolving into something forbidden. The closer they grow, the more determined he becomes to catch her father’s killer—even if he has to overstep his bounds to do it.  The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul. It’s his job to listen to the tales the dead tell. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

My Review

Clay Edison works for the coroner’s office and is called out to a case that appears to be a an accident, or a medical incident – anything but a homicide.  Nonetheless, Edison doesn’t seem to be able to let it go, due in large part to his attraction to the deceased’s daughter.  Even though his boss tells him not to investigate, he does so, ultimately leading him to uncover the truth about a case. I liked Edison and his determination but at the same time the amount of time he spent digging up the past on his own time didn’t seem feasible. After all, he still had to do his actual job.

This well-written novel also touched on pertinent issues related to mental illness and the influence of TV and computer games on violent behavior.  The plot moved along at a steady pace, with several unexpected turns, making for an enjoyable and interesting read.  I look forward to reading more books featuring Clay Edison if this becomes a series.

FTC Disclosure:  I received an advance review copy of this book without obligation and have voluntarily chosen to share my honest review. 

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.

Spotlight: FINDING CLAIRE by Pamela Humphrey

It’s always fun to discover new authors and new books. Here’s a recently released mystery you might want to consider reading on that next cold wintry day.

sm_finding-claire-_front-coverDescription

She wakes up in the back of a van, and her whole world changes.

Injured and afraid–with no recollection of who she is–she stumbles through the Texas Hill Country with a photo labeled Claire. Seeking safety, she knocks at Alex’s cabin door. He protects her, even though she stirs up memories that haunt him.

She wants her life back. He wants to ease his guilt and will protect her even if it means risking his own life. Together they search, hoping questions will be answered by Finding Claire.

Excerpt

Chapter One

January 8, 2016 – 9:27pm

The night I woke up in the back of a van with my hands bound, my whole world changed. It was a Friday.

I opened my eyes and fought to remember how I ended up in a dark, moving vehicle. As if rising from the depths of a deep lake, I struggled, desperate for a glimpse of the familiar. Rope burned my wrists. I didn’t have the presence of mind or the courage to formulate an escape. Panic rendered me useless as someone drove me to the middle of nowhere.

The kidnappers’ most helpful accomplice, my own fear, held me prisoner. The worst part of it all, my mind hid memories from me. I didn’t even know my own name.

A greasy, foul-smelling man marched me into a dark house. Images of how I’d be killed flashed through my mind when he shoved me into a putrid closet. Another man did his bidding, and talked incessantly. More than a day, being fed nothing but bologna sandwiches, I wallowed in that tiny space.

About the Author

Pamela Humphrey is a homeschooling mom of three, an amateur genealogist, a crafter, a wanna-be bass guitarist, and the author of Finding Claire, The Blue Rebozo, and Researching Ramirez: On the Trail of the Jesus Ramirez Family. Inspired by genealogy, she writes fiction that weaves the past into the present. She lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, sons, black cats, and leopard gecko.

Finding Claire is available from:

wrong-pathConnect with Pamela:

Guest Post, Spotlight & Giveaway: WHAT FRESH SMELL by Jeffrey Marks

what-fresh-smell-large-banner340

As part of a Blog Tour organized by Great Escapes Free Virtual Book Tours,  I am pleased to have Jeffrey Marks as my guest today as he celebrates the release of What Fresh Smell, the third book in the Marissa Scott Mysteries series. A fan of puns,  Jeffrey is offering a free copy of his holiday-themed book,  Love Stinks, to anyone who leaves a punny title in the comments.


Ho-Ho-Homicide by Jeffrey Marks

Jeff_new.jpgWith the holidays coming up, I thought I might say a few words about another book in the Marissa Scott series, Love Stinks. All of the books in the series take place around a particular holiday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Father’s Day. Love Stinks, the second book in the series, takes place around the Christmas season, which is historically the busiest time at a mall.

This book was published second, but is actually a prequel to The Scent of Murder. If you prefer to read books sequentially in that universe, then Love Stinks would come first; however, if you prefer to read them by date of publication, then The Scent of Murder would precede it.

Love Stinks begins with Cincinnati’s favorite celebrity, Steve Douglas, coming back to town to tout his new cologne. When he arrives at Kantor’s department store, he begins his spiel, only to keel over dead on the podium. Since the death occurred in the cosmetics department, which Marissa manages, she is tasked with trying to bring order back to the department so sales are not impacted. Given the stress of dealing with Christmas sales, Marissa has to work with her friends to find out the murderer and get the department back to normal.

I love the title puns that I’ve been using in the books (Love Stinks, What Fresh Smell). I am thinking that the next one may be Smell in a Handbasket, but I won’t know for sure until the book is finished.

I’d be happy to give a free copy of Love Stinks to anyone who leaves a pun title (about noses, smells, scents, odors, etc) in the comment section.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00061]About What Fresh Smell

There’s Murder in River City – Daycare that is.

When Marissa learns that a teacher at the daycare center has been murdered, she comes to the realization that she really didn’t know much about the people who worked there, especially the murdered woman. She’ll now have to manage her son, her mother, her mother’s Scottish terrier, and an ex-boyfriend as she tries to hunt down the people behind a robbery ring and the person who killed a daycare teacher. If she’s not careful, she might meet the same fate.

You can purchase the book on Amazon.

Giveaway

Click here to enter a rafflecopter for a chance to win  a copy of What Fresh Smell by Jeffrey Marks.

About the Author

Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer.  After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.

That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It was nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony. He won a Malice Domestic Grant for The Scent of Murder, which has spurred the Marissa Scott series. What Fresh Smell is the third novel in the series.

His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his spouse and three dogs.

Connect with the author:

Release Spotlight: DEADLY CONNECTION by Tammy L. Grace

Tammy L. Grace has recently released a new book in her Cooper Harrington Detective series.  I haven’t read it yet, but it sounds promising.

Description

amazon-goodreads.jpgCoop’s case takes an unexpected twist when he discovers the dead body of his latest client.

A newcomer to Nashville with a troublesome problem requests an emergency meeting with private detective Cooper “Coop” Harrington.  When she fails to keep her appointment, Coop and Annabelle, his faithful friend and assistant, become worried and go in search of their new client.  Their hopes for a quiet Sunday are dashed when they discover her dead body.

Coop and Annabelle find themselves immersed in the investigation, uncovering tenuous links to a handful of suspects. With the help of his loyal golden retriever, Gus, and meddling but well-meaning Aunt Camille, Coop works to untangle the web of connections to expose the motive and identity of the killer before anyone else is murdered.

About the Author

TTammyLGrace.jpgammy L. Grace is the award-winning author of The Hometown Harbor Series of women’s fiction set in the picturesque San Jan Islands in Washington and a mystery series set in Nashville, Tennessee, featuring Cooper Harrington, Private Detective.

Born and raised in Nevada, Tammy L. Grace loved reading at a young age. With the help of her middle school teacher, she discovered the joy of writing. When Tammy isn’t working on ideas for a novel, she’s spending time with family and friends or supporting her addiction to books and chocolate. She and her husband have one grown son and a spoiled golden retriever.

Connect with Tammy:

Books by Tammy L. Grace

Hometown Harbor Series:

Click here to view the Hometown Harbor series trailer.

coopersetCooper Harrington Detective Series:

 

Spotlight & Giveaway: DYING FOR DATA by Cassidy Salem

DyingforData_smallerYup. You read that right. Today I’m turning the spotlight on my new release. At long last, Dying for Data (Adina Donati, Accidental Sleuth Book 2) is on the virtual bookshelf.

Description

Bad karma, a rival suitor, and a deadly attack are enough to put a damper on any date.

Just when Adina’s social life is looking up, her night out is interrupted by the scream of police sirens. Afraid her bartender boyfriend might be accused of murder, Adina’s neighbor enlists her assistance, and in the process exposes her to the seamier side of illegal immigration and crime in the city. Hard as she tries to limit her involvement, the more Adina learns, the more she needs to know – until a case of mistaken identity lands her in hot water. Will she uncover the truth before it’s too late?

Although the second book in a cozy mystery series, Dying for Data can be read as a standalone. The first book in the series was released in 2015.

To celebrate the release,  Think Murder is on sale for  just $0.99 – today only!

And you can enter a Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Dying for Data.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dying for Data by Cassidy Salem

Dying for Data

by Cassidy Salem

Giveaway ends August 25, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Last but not least, here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Dying for Data:

I shivered as we walked the short distance to our dinner destination. Although the cold wintry air provided some explanation, ingrained apprehension probably played a greater role than I’d care to admit.

Don’t get me wrong. The Provence Bar and Grill isn’t in the worst part of DC, still it’s not in a neighborhood where I’d feel comfortable walking alone at night. Of course, I wasn’t alone. Bruce was right there at my side. His green eyes sparkled as he watched me scan the streets for potential dangers.

“Adina, relax. It’s a regular neighborhood, with regular people.” He clasped my hand as we walked the short distance to the restaurant. His nearness helped, but didn’t entirely assuage my fears as we made our way down the busy street, passing an eclectic collection of humanity, from well-heeled businessman to the occasional homeless person.
Continue reading

Review: SINCE SHE WENT AWAY by David Bell

As someone who occasionally downloads books from NetGalley as part of blog tours, I get the occasional prompt to consider reading whichever books they are offering for review.  On a whim, I decided to grab a pre-release copy of  Since She Went Away, a mystery by David Bell. I’m glad I did.

About the Book (from Amazon)

WentAway.jpgThree months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.

The only piece of evidence is a lone diamond earring found where Celia and Jenna were planning to meet, leading the national media to dub Celia “The Diamond Mom.” And even though Jenna has obsessively surfed message boards devoted to missing persons cases, she is no closer to finding any answers—or easing her guilt.

But when her son’s new girlfriend—who suddenly arrived in town without a past—disappears, a stricken Jenna begins to unwind the tangled truth behind Celia’s tragedy. And as long-buried secrets finally come to light, she discovers how completely lives can be shattered by a few simple lies.

My Review

This was a great book. Jenna’s sense of guilt, though not entirely  justifiable, drives her actions throughout the story.  She and her son are caring, likable and easy to relate to. The story moved along at a fast pace – so much so that I  stayed up almost until dawn to finish it.  If you enjoy mystery and suspense, this is one to add to your TBR list for sure. This was the first time I’ve read anything by David Bell – it won’t be the last.

FTC Disclosure:   I received a complimentary ARC of this book from NetGalley.  This has not affected the content of my review in any way.

Review & Giveaway: UNEVEN EXCHANGE by S.K. Derban

iRead Website new logo

Today, as part of a Blog Tour organized by iRead Book Tours,  I am pleased to introduce you to S.K. Derban’s most recent release – Uneven Exchange.

Description

unnamedLike fire and ice, Alexandra Callet’s life runs hot and cold. At the age of thirty-three, Alexandra owns a stunning home and a successful interior design company. But she is in love with her business partner, Jake Taylor, and he doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a woman. She should be on top of the world, but instead she feels dragged down by the void in her heart. Hoping for answers, she decides a trip to Mexico might soothe her soul.

Jake Taylor only pretends to be a confirmed bachelor. Jake has been entranced by Alexandra’s determination and exotic beauty since the moment they met, but she has no idea how he feels. He considers confessing his love, but fears jeopardizing their friendship and business. He’s caught in a web of pretending he doesn’t care, and doesn’t see a way out of it. Alexandra is recruited for a dangerous mission. Following her trip to Mexico, her resemblance to a member of an assassin’s family leads Alexandra to be recruited by the DEA. Her training leaves her distracted, and her business begins to suffer. Jake notices her sudden change, and feels her slipping both personally and professionally beyond his reach.

Should he finally take the chance…before it’s too late? After all, he has nothing to lose. However, when Alexandra returns to Mexico for her mission, things go terribly wrong. Will she be able find the strength to fight and escape the peaceful haven that has now become her prison?

Or will Jake lose Alexandra forever…

My Review

This  thriller features a DEA undercover mission, intrigue, and organized crime – all the key elements for  a suspense-filled story.

Alex is a strong, beautiful and intelligent women, who is willing to risk her life to help bring an infamous assassin to justice.  Admirable.  She is in love with the business partner, Jake, but she’s convinced that he’s not interested in becoming more than friends. She’s wrong, still it was easy to relate to her reasons for hiding her feelings.  The sudden appearance of gorgeous and somewhat mysterious DEA agent and the intensity of her training leave her little time to think about Jake or anything else, for that matter.

All in all, it was a well written story with a captivating plot that included a few unexpected twists. I enjoyed the  vivid descriptions of the varied locations in California and Mexico, especially the rugged travel conditions in Mexico.

I must say, however, that the author’s attempt to intertwine faith felt forced. Although Alex’s faith was more or less in keeping with her character throughout the story, as the book neared its conclusion it seemed that a disproportionate number of characters were suddenly devout Christians.

That said, I expect that if you enjoy a crime thriller with a touch of romantic suspense, you may well find yourself turning pages way into the night.

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. 

Giveaway

As part of this blog tour, enter for a chance to win a copy of Uneven Exchange (USA only) + a $25 Amazon gift card (International) in a Rafflecopter giveaway.

About the Author

Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, S.K. Derban moved to London within the first three months, and remained in England until the age of five. Her father, an American citizen, was a decorated veteran of the second world war. Derban’s mother, born and raised in the United Kingdom, was involved with the London Royal Ballet Company, and a great fan of the arts.  Even after returning to the United States, Derban’s life was filled with a love of the theatre and a passion for British murder mysteries. S.K. Derban has always remained passionate about writing, and is thrilled to finally share her work with others.S.K. Derban

Her personal travel and missionary adventures also help to transport readers virtually across the globe. When writing, S.K. Derban relies on all aspects of her life, from her faith in the Lord, to her love and knowledge of the arts.

Connect with the author:
Website   Twitter   Facebook