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Audiobook Review – Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite Book 2)

Tuesday, February 5th, 2019

Her Final Breath (Tracy Crosswhite, Bk 2)

Her Final Breath by Robert Dugoni
Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Tracy Crosswhite is back in the second novel of the Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni. Her Final Breath picks up not too long after book one, My Sister’s Grave. You can check out my review for My Sister’s Grave here.

Her Final Breath takes the reader back to the case that was playing out in the background of book one. A murdered dancer’s case has been sent to cold cases, but a recent murder has brought the cold case back to the forefront. Unfortunately, clues are stacking up to make it look like these murders are the work of a serial killer.

At the start of the novel Tracy is left an eerie message with a noose hanging from the fence at the police’s firing range. Despite this threat, Tracy is assigned to lead the task force to catch the murderer who has been nicknamed The Cowboy. The killer leaves few clues and the task force is trying to put together a puzzle with very few pieces. Butting heads with her captain, Tracy does her best to keep following any leads, but she ends up placing herself closer to the noose of the killer.

I am curious how Tracy’s character will develop further in the series. Just two books in and she seems to be a target for the creepy characters, and I am already weary of it. I hope there is more dimension in the future books of the series as I do plan to continue reading.

I am glad Dugoni didn’t dismiss the case that was introduced in book one and that he concluded that mystery in book two. Some revelations were surprising and disturbing and I didn’t find Her Final Breath to be predictable; however, some parts were rather hard to follow. The main issue with the audiobook was the flashback portions were hard to navigate because the listener wasn’t aware when there was a break in the writing to indicate a new section within a chapter. Overall, I would recommend Her Final Breath, but would probably recommend reading, rather than listening, to the novel.

 

 

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – A Study in Scarlet

Monday, February 4th, 2019

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle

Review by Matt B. (BuffaloSavage)

A former army doctor returns to Victorian London from the war in Afghanistan. Instead of decorations and commendations, the war has given the medical man “nothing but misfortune and disaster.” He suffers chronic pain from a wound in the shoulder from a bullet at Maiwand. He caught a case of enteric fever so terrible they doctors gave up hope he would pull through. But, in his mid-twenties, he drew upon the resources of youth and did not die.

Back in London he must live on a small disability pension while he recovers his health. He desperately needs an affordable apartment. Another man has just rented an apartment in Baker Street and is looking for a roommate. The man says out of the blue to the doc’s amazement, “You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive.” The veteran warns of his eccentricities: “My nerves are shaken, and I get up at all sorts of ungodly hours, and I am extremely lazy,” thus listing the classic symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.

Their meeting marks the beginning of the most famous partnership in detective fiction, John H. Watson and Sherlock Holmes. The two are still getting used to each other’s eccentric qualities when a letter arrives from Inspector Gregson of Scotland Yard about a killing near Brixton Road. An American named Enoch J. Drebber – now there’s a Englishman’s idea of a typical American name – was murdered, and there are no clues but for the German word “revenge” smeared on the wall with blood.

Holmes invites Watson to accompany him on his work as a consulting detective. Holmes, a brilliant quirky loner, is still human enough to get a kick out of astounding us ordinary people. Watson joins readers, clients and the cops Gregson and Lestrade as an appreciative audience when Holmes explains how he uses his knowledge and skill to “read” a crime scene and deduce the steps in a crime.

This was the first Holmes story, published as a novelette in the 1887 Beeton’s Christmas Annual. It’s not hard to understand why it was rejected many times before the 27-year-old author finally sold it. The successful first part introduces Holmes and Watson in a captivating style familiar from the later stories – it’s amazing Conan Doyle seems to have found his voice for these stories on the very first try. But the second part, set in the United States, fails as a western or an adventure tale, though it reads smoothly enough. It also expresses unfortunate views of the Church of LDS and Native Americans. Conan Doyle should have just made up a religion, not pandered to anti-Mormon prejudices of his day.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Audiobook Review – Edinburgh Twilight

Monday, January 28th, 2019

 

Edinburgh Twilight by Carole Lawrence
Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Detective Inspector Ian Hamilton is humble, troubled, caring, and determined; the author Carole Lawrence combines these traits to create a detective who is thoughtful and thorough in his pursuit of justice. At first glance he may seem like the typical troubled protagonist, but as the book progressed, Ian came across as less stereotypical than I first thought.

Edinburgh Twilight sheds light on the dark underbelly of Edinburgh in the 1880s. In the Old Town, criminals and prostitutes are around every corner. When a young man is found dead, Detective Inspector Hamilton believes it is murder. He makes his case to his superior and is granted some leeway to pursue the case, along with the assistance of one young officer. As the story develops, they realize they have stumbled onto a serial killer who becomes known in Edinburgh as the Holyrood Strangler.

Ian is dogged in his pursuit of the killer and crosses paths with others who assist him in piecing together the truth about the killer. The cast of characters includes Ian’s aunt, a clingy librarian and a street kid…there are others but mentioning them here gives away a little too much in terms of plot and surprises.

I’ll cover my positives first. I thought the storyline was clear and the pieces came together nicely. The various characters each brought something new to the storyline. Ian was a great protagonist and hero in the novel. The author reveals a lot about Ian as the novel progresses to help the reader understand his motivations and personality. Additionally, the supporting cast of characters was well-balanced and purposeful in their place in the story. Now for the negatives. The narrator seemed a bit over the top. He did a great job of creating different voices, but some voices were exaggerated to the point of being a bit off-putting. Some of the language seemed like it was a bit too contemporary for the turn of the century. I am not as much of a stickler for this, but I know if I noticed it, a reader who looks for purist historical fiction may have a real issue. Despite the negatives, I would still recommend Edinburgh Twilight, but I am going to be reading, rather than listening, to book two Edinburgh Dusk.

 

 

 

Mystery Monday Review – My Sister’s Grave

Monday, January 21st, 2019

My Sister's Grave (Tracy Crosswhite, Bk 1)

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

Tracy Crosswhite has carried guilt related to her sister Sarah’s death for a long time.  Almost 20 years ago, Tracy attended an event with her sister and rather than returning home with Sarah afterwards, Tracy went to dinner with her boyfriend.  On her way home, Sarah went missing and was presumed murdered, although her body was never found.  A suspect was arrested and imprisoned for the crime, but Tracy was always consumed with uncertainty due to her questions about certain facts of the case.

Now, years later, Sarah’s body has been discovered and Tracy begins a quest to discover the truth about Sarah’s death.  Tracy pursues her questions and moves closer to finding out the truth; however, there are people who don’t want her digging up old memories and old cases.  Tracy’s efforts are discouraged and the people she can trust are very few.

In Dugoni’s first Crosswhite novel, the reader really gets to know the complexity of Tracy’s emotions surrounding her family and the loss of her sister.  Tracy initially became a teacher, but her desire to seek justice for her sister drove her to become a homicide detective for the Seattle police.  Tracy’s grief and questions are all-consuming, and it impacts her relationships or inhibits her from even having relationships.  While Tracy’s character is complex (and I expect even further developed in upcoming novels in the Crosswhite series), the secondary characters are not dismissed.  Dugoni creates secondary characters who made me laugh, smile, cringe, and shake my head.  These characters add depth and personality to a novel that could otherwise have been taken to a very dark place by Tracy’s obsession with her sister’s murder.

I thought this was a well thought out crime novel, and while Sarah’s mystery is solved by the end, there is a crime Tracy is investigating as a Seattle homicide detective that plays out in the background of the novel. That crime is not solved and I hope it gets carried into book two of the series.  I do plan on continuing with the Tracy Crosswhite series and recommend the series to my fellow mystery buffs out there!

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction Review – The Rose Garden

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

The Rose Garden

The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley

Review by Mirah W. (mwelday)

I have read a few Kearsley novels and I never know how to label them.  Fiction? Supernatural? Romance? Historical Fiction?  Kearsley’s novels seem to have a bit of everything and The Rose Garden was no exception.

Eva and her sister Katrina had a very close relationship.  When Katrina dies, her husband asks Eva to take Katrina’s ashes to a place Katrina loved and where she felt like she belonged.  Eva settles on Cornwall, where she and Katrina spent their childhood summers and shared many happy moments.

Eva hasn’t been to Cornwall in many years, but when she arrives at Trelowarth House it was like she had never been gone.  Her friends embraced her, and she was able to say her final goodbye to her sister Katrina.  But one morning she hears voices in an adjoining room, only there is no one there.  Not long after, Eva finds herself slipping through some sort of time shift and she is taken back to the eighteenth century at Trelowarth House.  She meets Daniel Butler, his brother Jack, and Fergal O’Cleary and in her shifts back and forth between the present and past, Eva gets to know these men and becomes a part of their lives.  When she realizes she has fallen in love with Daniel she is at a loss of how they can possibly have a life together.  What Kearsley develops is a story with connections from the past that impact the family who lives at Trelowarth House in the present. With the help of a trusted confidant, Eva comes to understand her place in both of those times.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, I am unsure of how to label this novel.  There are elements of several genres and Kearsley finds a way to merge them all together to create a novel that has a little of everything without it seeming unfocused.  Additionally, the characters are likeable and as the reader I wanted them to be happy.  While I did enjoy The Rose Garden, I don’t think it felt as streamlined as some of Kearsley’s other novels.  When the mystery of how Eva is able to shift through time is answered, it’s not covered as deftly as I would have expected based on other Kearsley novels I’ve read; however, I still think the story was lovely and worth a read.

 

 

 

 

 

Paranormal Review – Loving You with Teeth and Claws A Dead Things Prequel

Tuesday, January 15th, 2019

Loving You With Teeth and Claws: A Dead Things Prequel

by Martina McAtee

Review by Donna C. (darkcoffeeclouds)

This is the first book by Martina McAtee that I’ve read and it is totally outside of my usual genres.  I was just so drawn in by the unusual covers of her books.  She won the 2016 Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal for her first book, Children Shouldn’t play with Dead Things.  This book, Loving You with Teeth and Claws, is a prequel to the series.  Martina McAttee’s books are Young Adult and Paranormal with a bit of Romance to keep things simmering.  I loved this book and can’t wait to read Book 1, Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things.

This story starts with Neoma, a young girl who is being chased by Dylan (a wolf shifter).  She hides from him but he can smell her.  She is so scared of him but she can’t remember why exactly.  She just knows that if he finds her, he will take her to the woman again and they will hurt her.  She finds a place and tries to make herself very small.  He finds her though, he always does, and in her frightened state she feels power coming up to her from the ground and then Dylan is dead.  At least she thinks he is.  She runs to the woods and runs into Wren.  She was so relieved because Dylan had told her that Wren was dead and couldn’t save her.

Wren doesn’t know what has been going on but he knows something isn’t right.  He left Neoma with his family to look out for her but they let someone hurt her.  He took Neoma and ran. They had to get as far away from there as they could before his dad found out they were gone.  They go to an old witch who tells him that someone has been hurting Neoma but he can’t see the scars because she has been glamoured.  There were also many other spells on her, some blocking her memory.  The witch showed Wren a glimpse of what Neoma really looked like and it was awful.  He couldn’t believe someone would do such a think to such a sweet little girl.  Then the witch suddenly told him the little girl has a passenger and is attacked by someone Wren can’t see.  The witch told him to get out of there and go to a town that is hidden by magic to see his betrothed.  He grabs Neoma and runs thinking maybe this person and her pack can help protect them from his father who desperately wants Neoma back.  Wren doesn’t understand why his father wants Neoma so badly but he plans to do whatever it takes to protect her.  Meanwhile, Alpha wolf, Isa McGowan, is trying to get four pre-teens out the door for school so she can get to work on time.  She is only 22 but can’t live her life like she would like to.  She has to care for these kids and run a restaurant to stay afloat.  Her pack isn’t what it used to be but she is doing all she can.  She also has no idea of the mess that is heading her way.

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Fiction Review – The Gift

Tuesday, December 4th, 2018

The Gift by Richard Paul Evans

Review by Donna C. (darkcoffeeclouds)

 

This is a great book to read at this time of the year.  It is sad but doesn’t leave you sad because the story comes wrapped up with hope. It is like the story of Christ and how he died, but he died for a purpose and presented us with his gift.  This book is about a little boy named Collin who also had a gift. He was a very sick little boy with cancer and heart failure and he had a little sister who loved him very much. He lived with his mom, Addison,  who worked very hard to make sure he and his sister were taken care of.

Nathan Hurst met this little family in a crowded airport when a snow storm shut down all flights and the roads leading to the airport.  The airport was full of stranded, tired, and very frustrated people. Nathan’s employer provided him with a hotel room at the airport but many people were out of luck and had to sleep in the chairs or on the floor.  When Nathan saw the woman with the sick little boy and his little sister who was very tired he offered her his hotel room.  He was also very sick with bronchitis and she didn’t feel right taking his room. It turned out that he ended up with the only room left, which was a suite with two rooms so they decided he would stay in one and the little family stayed in the other.  Later, when they were getting to know each other something amazing happened. The little boy put his hand on Nathan’s head and healed him. He didn’t just heal his bronchitis but also his Tourett’s syndrome.  Nathan didn’t say anything at first because of how ridiculous it sounded.  No one would believe him, but he knew that little boy was special.

Collin’s mother didn’t want anyone to know about his gift because every time he healed someone, he got sicker.  She knew everyone would be begging for his help and it would kill him. What she didn’t expect was people trying to use his gift for monetary gain. It was bound to happen and it eventually did.  Someone saw Collin work his magic and the chaos began.

This story hits on a few other topics as well, like greed and forgiveness, especially forgiving yourself and letting go of the pain.  Nathan had been holding onto something very painful that happened when he was a child.  He never talked to anyone about it and it was like a festering wound that was preventing him from really living his life.  Collin helped him realize that it was time to let it go and to finally start living.  I know from experience that can be very hard to do, even when you desperately want to.  This book doesn’t take long to read but it is worth the time.