Category Archives: Crime & Mystery

Book Review: The Haunting of Winchester Mansion

I’m at the point in my book reading career (if only!) that all I have to do to find something to read is pickup my Kindle and make a random choice out of the library I have amassed there. Sounds like a good “problem” to have, eh? Sometimes it is a real gamble. I’m on several mailing lists for free Kindle books, as well as several author mailing lists. It can be very difficult to decide what to read.

In May, I chose to reading a cliche named series. One of those “the haunting of…” titles that seem so popular in the paranormal genre. I didn’t know what to expect. It took me a few chapters to even decide if I liked what I was reading. Might have gone differently if I had actually started with the first book in the series. Continue reading

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Filed under Crime & Mystery, Horror

The Red Hill, expanded review

The Red Hill

Here’s the short review I wrote for The Red Hill on Goodreads. Below that you will find a more thorough review.

The Red Hill by David Penny

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoy reading a good mystery now and again. Reading a mystery in an historical setting is a real pleasure, especially when the author can bring that setting to life in their book. David Penny managed to do that. Crossing the lines of religion and culture, Penny takes you through a thrilling ride. Exploring the darker aspects of politics in Moorish Spain around the time of Ferdinand and Isabela, Penny’s characters of Thomas and Jorge learn a lot more about life than either one ever wanted to know. With twists and turns that will leave you wondering until the end who-done-it. I’m looking forward to reading other Thomas Berrington stories.

View all my reviews Continue reading

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Stolen Ink by Holly Evans

What a pleasant surprise to find Holly Evans’ first book in the Ink Born series. I recently interviewed Danielle Ackley-McPhail, one of the editors of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series and she mentioned Evans as an author she thought was going places. I’d have to agree with her on that one!

Evans takes a little bit of this and a little bit of that and tosses in a dash of this other thing over here and makes a world that is both familiar and different at the same time. In a city that could be anywhere, but most likely in England, resides Dacian. Dacian, or Dan, is a tattoo magician. He can help draw out the tattoo that his clients are meant to have. There is much more to it than that, but I don’t want to take away from the fun of discovery.

Oh, and did I mention that he has two tattoo animals, a cat named Kyra and a snake named Aris; a best friend who is his tattoo partner, former lover, and an elf; that he has dreamwalker and shapeshifter friends? Or that he is a lonely gay man in a world of magic and intrigue that seems to leave little time – or desire – for anything long-term? Or that he has a deep secret that he won’t even tell his best friend?

You’ll just have to read the book to find out about that secret!

Dacian feels compelled to get involved in a series of mysteries tattoo related magical deaths. He’s drawn to the killer through the ink. Like many a hero in fantasy he is reluctant and fights it all the way kicking and screaming. But along the way he learns something about himself, something that he is afraid to share with anyone and something that might lead to him having to flee for his life and leave everything behind that he has worked so hard to create – his tattoo business, his friends, and a budding romance that he didn’t even want.

If you like fantasy, faeries, magic, mystery, and a dash of romance this is a book for you. The love scenes are subtle and won’t even make you blush to read them on the bus or in a coffee-house. The action is intense at times and the road to self-discovery for Dacian is one that I do not envy him.

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Filed under Crime & Mystery, LBGTQA Books, Paranormal Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy Books, Uncategorized

Agent Pendergast: Cold Vengence

The second in the trilogy about Agent Pendergast’s wife Helen, Cold Vengeance takes the reader on a whirlwind journey from the moors of Scotland to the humid bayous of Louisiana¬†and the dregs of the interwebs. Fever Dream introduced us to the idea that Helen’s death was anything but an accident. Cold Vengeance starts to unravel the conspiracy in detail. With hints of genetic manipulation, secret societies, and a plan to take dominion of the human race the reader will be hanging on each word wanting for more.

Preston and Child take advantage of characters introduced in earlier books to thicken the plot. Corrie Swanson continues her independent investigations, even with Pendergast firmly telling her not to get involved. His own ward, Constance Greene, becomes a central figure in this chapter of the drama. Of course Lt. Vincent D’Agosta and Cpt. Laura Hayward continue their roles as Pendergast’s willing, and unwilling, partners in his quest for the truth.

I’ve always enjoyed reading mystery and suspense. Preston and Child seem to have a unique flair for both. I’ve read solo works from both authors and haven’t been disappointed yet. Between the two of them they add an element of almost the paranormal (sometimes without the “almost”) with the complications of the modern world. With characters from across the social and political divides, these two authors can capture the imagination and make you think about the implications of what some of those very same characters are willing to do to get to where they are or where they want to be in life. Some who have not read them may be familiar with the movie version of Relic, you have to read their books to truly appreciate what Relic brought to the screen.

From the official website of Preston & Child:

Nothing is what it seems…

Devastated by the discovery that his wife, Helen, was murdered, Special Agent Pendergast must have retribution. But revenge is not simple.

As he stalks his wife’s betrayers-a chase that takes him from the wild moors of Scotland to the bustling streets of New York City and the darkest bayous of Louisiana-he is also forced to dig further into Helen’s past. And he is stunned to learn that Helen may have been a collaborator in her own murder.

Peeling back the layers of deception, Pendergast realizes that the conspiracy is deeper, goes back generations, and is more monstrous than he could have ever imagined-and everything he’s believed, everything he’s trusted, everything he’s understood . . . may be a horrific lie.

Check back soon for my review of the third and final installment of the Helen trilogy – Two Graves.

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Filed under Crime & Mystery, Thriller

Agent Pendergast: Fever Dream

Click to find links to purchase the book online, multiple internet retailers available.

Preston & Child’s 10th Special Agent Pendergast novel, Fever Dream, is the first of a trilogy about the agent’s long-lost wife, Helen, who was slain by a lion while they were on safari in Africa.

Special Agent Aloysius X. L. Pendergast became a hit with movie goers after the novel Relic was made into a major motion picture. That was my first exposure to the character and to the authors. Since then I’ve been reading their books as I get the time. The 10th installment in Pendergast’s saga is no disappointment.

From the authors’ website: “At the old family manse in Louisiana, Special Agent Pendergast is putting to rest long-ignored possessions reminiscent of his wife Helen’s tragic death, only to make a stunning-and dreadful-discovery.

“Helen had been mauled by an unusually large and vicious lion while they were big game hunting in Africa. But now, Pendergast learns that her rifle-her only protection from the beast-had been deliberately loaded with blanks. Who could have wanted Helen dead…and why?

“With Lieutenant Vincent D’Agosta’s assistance, Pendergast embarks on a quest to uncover the mystery of his wife’s murder. It is a journey that sends him deep into her past, where he learns much that Helen herself had wished to keep hidden.

“Helen Pendergast had nursed a secret obsession with the famed naturalist-painter John James Audubon, in particular a long-lost painting of his known as the Black Frame.

As Pendergast probes more deeply into the riddle-the answer to which is revealed in a night of shocking violence, deep in the Louisiana bayou-he finds himself faced with an even greater question: who was the woman he married?”

Whether the reader has seen Relic or read any of the other Pendergast novels, this stand alone trilogy will grip fans off suspense, thriller, and mystery alike. Pendergast seems to be an anachronism in the FBI, let alone in modern society. Fond of dark suits, paired with his pale skin, he looks to be either an undertaker or an eccentric Southern gentleman. This impression is furthered by his preference for driving his classic Rolls Royce. His unique psyche and understanding of the criminal  mind leaves the impression that he himself might be a sociopath. His obsession for detail and penchant for eliminating his perps rather than bringing them to justice just might make him a psychopath with an FBI badge and gun.

Fever Dream, taken as it is, reads well enough. Preston and Child give enough background on their characters to make it easy for a new reader to follow along without wondering where this little tidbit or that hint of something from another case came from. The book also brings in that element of love that is often missing from hard crime novels. Pendergast loved his wife, and still does, but he’s learning as the story unfolds that the woman he loved and the woman Helen was might not be the same person. With hints of psychodrama (and mental illness) threaded through the story, fans of psychological thrillers just might find the trilogy worth picking up. Audubon being at the center of the investigation and the mystery of who Helen was will be of interest to the Naturist and the art lover. Elements of medical mystery combines with other twists and turns definitely kept this reader flipping pages to get to the end.

And of course I am already reading book two in the Helen trilogy of the Pendergast series with book three sitting on my to-be-read shelf.

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Bones of the Lost, Kathy Reichs

I’m playing a little catch up with my Temperance Brennan reading. Kathy Reichs’ forensic anthropologist turned crime solver grabbed my attention because off the TV series based on the books. Though the two Tempes are different in many ways, they both captured my imagination.

In Bones of the Lost, Dr. Brennan gets caught up in the sad homicide of an undocumented teenage immigrant, the examination of mummified dog remains from South America, and the criminal investigation of a military shooting incident in Afghanistan. Three seemingly unrelated cases. The first a case with the Charlotte, NC medical examiners office, the second a courtesy to US Customs, and the third a “drafting” by Military Intelligence. As she proceeds with her unconnected investigations it grows increasingly clear that at least two of these cases may be connected.

From the slums and seedy underbelly of Charlotte to the war torn villages of Afghanistan, our heroine tries to solve these mysteries while battling fatigue, emotional issues over her ex-husband getting remarried, the distance – both geographically and emotionally – of her only daughter, and the resistance of both local police and US Customs to make the investigation of the teenager’s death a priority. In typical Reichs fashion, the reader is sucked into the parallel investigations and sees through Brennan’s eyes how heartbreaking and terrifying it can be to jump deep into the criminal mind and try to understand the PTSD effects of an on-duty shooting death in the Army.

Fans of the books will not be disappointed, first time readers (familiar with the TV series) might find the written stories of their favorite forensic anthropologist much different from the one on the small screen. Either way, the book is captivating and current to today’s world. Reichs often takes story ideas from her own professional experience as a forensics anthropologist and from the news. In this novel she addresses child trafficking, PTSD, and the illegal import of archaeological artifacts from around the world. Viewers of the TV series will note that even on the TV screen, Tempe attempts to tackle such intense issues.

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Billy Boyle a WWII Mystery

Billy Boyle

I’m a fan of period mysteries. From stories set in ancient times to futuristic crime dramas. James R. Benn’s Billy Boyle was no disappointment for me.

Following the story of Lt. William Boyle, an Irish cop from the south of Boston, this novel takes you straight into the action at Beardsley Hall in England at the beginning of America’s involvement on the European front of World War II. Billy Boyle is a young man who has no experience of anything outside of Boston, Mass. He finds himself transplanted into the U.S. Army Headquarters under the command of General Eisenhower, who just happens to be his uncle.

Flipping through this fast passed novel will take you deep into the inner workings of the planned liberation of Norway from the Nazis. Along the way you’ll meet the King of Norway, a Baron, a spy, a murderer, a knighted soldier and his two passionate daughters who will take your breath away. Follow the rumors of stolen gold, misplaced love affairs and a Nazi spy in the midst of the Norwegian government in exile as you learn what is means to be a young Irish-American cop who has no clue what he is doing working for Ike or trusted with the details of a top-secret plan.

Will Lt. Boyle follow his orders like a good soldier or will he let his heart and instincts lead him? You’ll have to read the book to find out.

This story did not disappoint. From an editor’s POV, I was impressed with the attention to continuity, spelling and grammar. From a reader’s POV, I was riveted. James R. Benn is one author I am looking forward to reading more from.

Originally published in 2006 in hardback, released in 2011 to Kindle. I read the Kindle format and you can find it and hardback and paperback editions at Amazon.

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