Suspense

“Indiscretion” by Polly Iyer

 

Book Cover - Indiscretion by Polly Iyer

 

A successful writer, separated from a bullying husband, meets a swoon-worthy art professor on the beach and is seduced, not at all reluctantly. During this “Indiscretion,” Zoe Swan relishes the wonderful attention she receives, something that has been missing from her marriage for a very long time. The lovers spend several passionate days together until some truths are revealed – none of them good.

 

The art prof is not who he seems and Zoe is suddenly caught up in a dangerous game involving a Vermeer stolen during the 1990 Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist in Boston. Her condo is trashed, someone is dead, and her almost-ex, David, is called by the police to answer questions. When it looks as if Zoe is under suspicion for everything that is happening around her, her shady brother-in-law is approached for help as a last resort.

 

Iyer gives us authentic characters in “Indiscretion,” with a story that flows effortlessly between the art heist and the consequences that befall everyone involved. We’re never sure whom to trust in this interplay of shady art world, antiquities, and both good and bad law enforcement officers. Zoe may be the only one we can believe to be exactly who she says she is, keeping the reader thoroughly absorbed with each new twist.

 

Iyer’s interesting subplot in “Indiscretion” plays brothers against each other as family debts are called into question. A temporary alliance is made with David and it’s hard to tell why he didn’t become a bonafide -ex years ago. Iyer nails David as a character, and makes us understand the complex dynamics of this marriage gone bad.


The total value of the entire missing collection is pegged at nearly 500 million dollars and a LOT of people want some of that action. The race is on to retrieve the hidden masterpiece and stay one step ahead of the several groups out to get rid of the amateurs in the way. Iyer’s version of the real-life art theft from the Gardner Museum is explored and is as entertaining as any I’ve read. The surprising revelations will keep you turning the pages until the end.

 

The Gardner decided that they would leave the frames empty until the paintings were recovered, but it’s haunting to visit the museum and see the vacant places where the paintings once hung. A daring heist to be sure, and amazing that 25 years after the theft, the paintings are still officially unaccounted for. There have been suspects, but the statute of limitations has long since passed. The Museum would just like to get the paintings back. There is a 5 million dollar reward for their return.

 

“Indiscretion” is a Kindle Scout winner.

For more information about Polly Iyer and her work, please visit www.pollyiyer.com


*Contains adult themes and dialogue.

 

 

 

 

Three Summer Vacation Quickie Reviews

 

In a rush to pick out your summer vacation ‘beach-reads’? This may help with the ‘run-in-and-grab’ non-thought process. Categories are listed in no particular order of favoritism or warning…

 

Dragons:

Book Cover - Brisinger by Christopher Paolini

Brisinger” by Christopher Paolini.  

More complex than the previous two books in the trilogy. Eragon is more developed as a character, but this has resulted in less time spent on adventures/conversations with Saphira, his dragon. Still great fun for dragon/fantasy fans.  🙂

 

Rated PG-13 for war and violence.

 

 

Faith-based fiction:
Book Cover - Night Light by Terri Blackstock

Night Light” by Terri Blackstock.

A world-wide power outage has kicked the earth back into 19th century technology. No cell phones, no computers, no AC and people have to ride bikes and grow their own food. Fascinating look at how one Christian family chooses to deal with the challenges of a more primitive life, including digging a well to obtain potable water. The young children in the book have dialogue that is developmentally inaccurate, but the overall story made me wonder how I would cope – and what kinds of vegetables I would be able to grow so that I could barter with someone who raised chickens.

 

Rated PG-13 for a murder, a kidnapping and scenes of drug usage.

 

 

YA Fiction:
Book Cover - I am Number Four by Pitticus Lore

I am Number Four” by Pitticus Lore.

An alien teenager, who has been hiding out on Earth with his protector, must deal with saving the world from nasty beings from his home planet that aim to wipe out his species. Made into a movie, but the book is MUCH better. There are sequels, but “I am Number Four” is the best. Filled with teen bits like first love, outsiders that don’t quite fit in, but are smarter than the ‘cool kids,’ blowing up the high school, etc.  Written for teens that are into intense action stories.

 

Rated PG-13 for alien invasion, intensity, and violence. Adults should look this over to assess its appropriateness for their teen.

 

Do you have a favorite summer vacation book? Let us know in the comments below.  🙂

Check out three quite different Beach Reads from last summer's list here.

Whatever you decide to read, enjoy!

 

 

 

 

“The Dangerous Edge of Things” by Tina Whittle

 

Book Cover - The Dangerous Edge of Things

Tai Randolph, the heroine up to her Georgia neck in trouble in Tina Whittle’s debut novel, “The Dangerous Edge of Things,” has just inherited the family’s gun shop in Atlanta. She’s only been in town a week when she finds a body in a car parked across the street from her brother’s house. But, her gun shop co-owner brother is on his way to the Bahamas, she may be in danger, a detective has her in his sights as a suspect, and a hunky private security agent may be the only person keeping her from harm. Not that she can’t take care of herself.

 

Tai Randolph is a great character, with just enough sass, savvy intelligence, and fierce independence to keep us reading and chuckling while Whittle develops the intriguing plot. The brother is covering up a LOT, but why? The security guy has an assignment tied to the murder, but how? The detective seems to know more than he’s telling. And why is everyone trying to keep Tai out of the loop? She has no intention of staying away from the action and manages to stay a step ahead of her protectors until they give up and include her in the plans. After all, she has her name to clear and a Confederate gun shop to open.

 

Whittle has written some worthy supporting characters with quirks that never get in the way of the story, while adding texture and depth to the subplots. The field security agent, Trey Seaver, is easy on the eyes, but has a few important flaws. Rico, a close friend, is a whiz at the techy stuff. Detective Garrity is nicely nuanced and believable, as is the rest of the cast. The storyline kept me engrossed until the surprising end – a terrific debut.

 

I was so impressed after finishing “The Dangerous Edge of Things” that I chose book #3, “Blood, Ash & Bone,” as my next read.
 

Book Cover - Blood Ash & Bone

“Blood, Ash & Bone” returns Tai to her former hometown, Savannah, in search of a Civil War era Bible, that if it really exists, may have gone missing from General Sherman’s effects. Lots of people are after this Bible, including her scumbag ex-boyfriend and the gal who may have stolen it from him. Did I mention that the gal used to be Tai’s best friend and that she ran off with the scumbag? No more besties, for sure.
 

Happily, Armani wearing Trey, best pal Rico, and Detective Dan Garrity are back and Whittle has done a superb job of supplying Tai with a blend of their expertise that helps her at just the right moments. Tai’s brother, an industrial psychologist in “The Dangerous Edge of Things,” has returned as well, and other relatives new to the series, are Southern gems.

 

Assorted other characters have no interest in being nice to Tai – their collective eyes are on the big, Confederate prize. Will multi-faceted Tai get out of this in one piece? Will she be able to overcome her dead Uncle Dexter’s shortcomings as a record-keeper when it’s time for the ATF audit of the gun shop? With the KKK, big money, ghosts from Tai’s past, Civil War collectors, and much more in the mix, this is one page-turning treat.

 

Tina has written five books in the series, the most recent being “Reckoning and Ruin.” Start with “The Dangerous Edge of Things” and read them all.

 

For more information about Tina Whittle, the Tai Randolph series and her other work, please visit www.tinawhittle.com

 

 

 

“In the Clearing” by Robert Dugoni

 

Book Cover - In the Clearing

“In the Clearing” brings us the fourth installment in Robert Dugoni’s series featuring Tracy Crosswaite, former high school teacher, now detective for the Seattle, Washington, Police Department.

 

A Seattle murder case is not what it seems at first, but just when the players trip over themselves to change stories and point fingers, Tracy is approached by a former colleague to help solve a cold case elsewhere that the woman’s father had worked on as a rookie cop. A young Native American girl disappeared on the walk home from work, then was found dead in a nearby stream. The case was considered solved and closed at the time, but when the father died, his case notes were found by the daughter. She is sure that he kept the case notes for a reason. Was justice done? Was there a cover up? Why did her dad care?

 

Tracy is skeptical that anything new can be found after forty years, but agrees to take a quick look and report back, no matter what the outcome. The closer she gets to the answers, the more her own life is placed in danger.

 

The cold case is a fascinating one, involving tension between Native Americans and local townspeople, the importance of that in small town culture, and the way in which modern forensic techniques can uncover old truths. This is a Dugoni novel, after all, and “In the Clearing” studies changing values and the way in which certain crimes are viewed and handled differently today.

 

The problem with 40-year-old cases is the lack of fresh physical evidence remaining, particularly when the crime occurs outside, and is affected by the elements. Crosswaite must rely on old photos and the testimony of any still living eyewitnesses. Forensic experts are called in to take a fresh look at the existing information – what remains or can be reconstructed. A character from an earlier book visits to give her astute opinions – an appealing fit as a recurring character. Dugoni’s descriptions of the re-enacted crime are chilling and WOW, do we want to get the guy that did the deed.

 

We can always count on Dugoni to create interesting characters, and “In the Clearing” includes familiar, fully fleshed out cops from the Seattle PD for the present day case, as well as multi-layered local people for the cold case. Crosswaite, is herself a complex law enforcement character and her romantic interest, Dan, introduced in “My Sister’s Grave,” is intelligent, likable, suitably matched and we root for this couple to continue.

 

Dugoni gives us a look at the challenges women continue to face when becoming part of any law enforcement agency. It isn’t enough for a woman to be average. One has to be better in shooting scores and in cases solved, tougher with no emotion shown in front of co-workers. Otherwise the men seem to discount the contribution. It is not an easy life, when starting as a patrol officer, working all shifts, paired with men who have suspicious  wives, spending 8-12 hours a day with a partner.

 

The cold case reveals that brutality and motivation behind the search for power and greed has never changed – just the players in the unfolding pain. “In the Clearing” contains several scenes and troubled characters that demonstrate how crippling that single-mindedness can be.

 

Read my review of “My Sister’s Grave,” the first full novel in the series, here.

Take a look at Dugoni’s David Sloane series with this review of “The Conviction,” here.

 

Please visit www.robertdugoni.com for information about Mr. Dugoni’s other work, future appearances, and the excellent classes he conducts.

 

 

“The Fixer” by Joseph Finder

 

Book Cover - The Fixer

In typical Joseph Finder fashion, “The Fixer” is a barnburner of a book. There is lots of action, jaw-dropping twists, and moments when you wonder if our hero, Rick Hoffman, will live through it all.

 

Former legitimate journalist and recently fired media man, Hoffman, is down on his luck, demoted to an almost non-existent freelance job except for the press passes that haven’t yet been canceled. His girlfriend has thrown him out and he has to sleep on a couch in his dad’s old house, a house that has been neglected for years. He wants to sell it for quick cash, but in its present rundown condition nobody will pay him even what the land is worth. He makes an agreement with a quasi friend/contractor to split the profits after sale, but in the process of chasing squirrels, discovers a secret in the attic – a $3 million stash.

 

Hoffman, true to his former investigative style, starts to research what his father might have been doing at the time before his stroke twenty years earlier. A stroke that was so severe that his dad can no longer communicate. Where did the money come from? How  could a solo attorney in a rough section of town ever make that much money? Hoffman asks questions that bring the wrong kind of attention to himself and the bad guys start tripping over each other in “The Fixer” to keep Hoffman quiet, including car trunks, plastic ties, tracking devices, and assorted other scare tactics.

 

Hoffman is so frightened that he goes into hiding – his decisions are naïve and comical at the same time, but who among us honest folks in mainstream life would be able to do it any better? Finder has a genius for making his heroes real and as un-Bond-like as possible, yet with enough smarts to solve as many of the puzzle parts as necessary to get them out of trouble. Hoffman is a great character – part professional, part loyal son, part one-scared-human-being, part reckless in the face of all he sees and learns, not always  staying ahead of his enemies.

 

The reason behind the $3 million is absorbing, frightening, and serious at its core. “The Fixer” is so well written that Finder made me wonder if the plot was based on a real-life incident. Only Joseph Finder and some of the citizens of Boston know the truth for sure.

 

Finder gives us some great scenes between father and son, despite the seemingly one-sided conversations. Other supporting characters are slithery, nasty, and their behavior is worthy of the cover up that Hoffman unravels bit-by-bit.

 

I met Joseph Finder at Bouchercon (the mystery fan convention) last year. He signed my copy of “Buried Secrets,” and you can read my review of that book here.

 

“The Fixer” is a pulse-pounding page turner, a great addition to my library, and one of the best thrillers I’ve read this year.

 

For more information about Joseph Finder, his work, and the movies based on his books, please visit www.josephfinder.com

 

 

Texas Fiction – 2016 List

 

WEnnisTexasBarnFlipDSC_0658_2-2 copy 2

Every once in a while, it’s fun to focus on regional fiction. It’s a chance for readers to concentrate on stories that take place in their favorite part of the world or an area that has aroused their curiosity. Sometimes, fans like to search for books written by authors that live in that region.

 

The Texas list of 36 authors is a mix of:

 

  • Authors who live there, but write books set elsewhere
  • Authors that have written novels set in Texas, but live elsewhere.
  • Authors who live in and write about Texas.

 

Click on the names to take you to the author sites.

 

Kathleen Rice Adams: “Prodigal Gun”

Susan Wittig Albert: “Blood Orange”

 

Linda Bingham: “Skyscraper Caper”

Parris Afton Bonds:  “Blue Bayou” box set

James Lee Burke: “House of the Rising Sun”

 

Valerie P Chandler: ‘Rota Fortunae’ in “Murder on Wheels”

Caroline Clemmons: “Angeline”

Catherine Coulter: “Nemesis”

Bill Crider: “Between the Living and the Dead”

 

Stephanie Jaye Evans:  "Safe from Harm"

Ann Everett: “Say You’ll Never Love Me”

 

Kay Finch: “The Black Cat Knocks on Wood”

Kinky Friedman – series about a Texan living in NYC

 

Meg Gardiner: “Phantom Instinct”  (reviewed here)

Kaye George: Imogene Duckworthy series, “Broke”

 

Linda Kozar: “Weighty Matters”

Billy Kring:  “Tonton”

 

Liz Lipperman:  “Chicken Caccia-Killer”

 

Nancy Martin: “Miss Ruffles Inherits Everything”

Larry McMurtry: “Lonesome Dove”

James Michener: “Texas”

 

Golden Keyes Parsons: “His Steadfast Love”

Mark Pryor: “Hollow Man”    

 

James Reasoner: “The Last War Chief”

Catie Rhodes:  “Rest Stop” 

Rick Riordan: “Rebel Island”

 

Terry Shames: “The Necessary Murder of Nonie Blake”

Leann Sweeney: Yellow Rose Mystery Series

 

Livia Washburn: “Peach of a Murder”

Nancy G. West:  "Smart, but Dead"

George Wier: “Cold Rains”

Lori Wilde:  “Love of the Game”

Lynn Chandler Willis: “Wink of an Eye”  (reviewed here)

Manning Wolfe:  "Dollar Signs"

Reavis Z. Wortham:  “Dark Places”

 

Celia Yeary:  “Annalisa”

 

 

Have fun choosing from this great list of Texas fiction.  🙂

 

 

 

“The Heist” by Daniel Silva

 

Book Cover - The Heist by Daniel Silva

Israeli top spy/art restorer, Gabriel Allon, would rather be working on a major art restoration in Italy, but a blackmailing member of the Italian Art Squad is able to tear him away from his project with a threat. In “The Heist,” a corrupt British spy who had been selling stolen artwork to an anonymous art collector winds up dead and a famous painting has gone missing. Enter Gabriel with his special expertise. In order to get an art dealer friend and associate cleared of suspicion for dealing in stolen goods, Gabriel must agree to do the impossible.

 

A plan is devised to lure the real thief (and murderer) into the open in order to find and recover a masterpiece that has been missing for decades – Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. But, Allon, next in line for the job as the head of Mossad, has friends and enemies in high places and it will be tricky to keep all the parties, himself included, alive and focused on the end game.

 

As we expect in Silva’s riveting series, the stakes in Gabriel’s personal and professional lives are higher than ever. In “The Heist,” Gabriel bends the laws of more than one country, enlists the assistance of men that specialize in assassination and special ops, and adds an additional layer of danger in order to help a survivor of a brutal attack years before in Syria. Returning characters create continuity for the series and keep the pages turning in true Silva fashion.

 

Silvia’s books give the reader a look at the world of politics and spies from an Israeli understanding, but we are always presented with multiple views of each of the conflicts addressed. “The Heist” is no different. This is a serious novel that tackles the Syrian turmoil, the effect of a country at war with itself, and its place within the context of the larger Middle East complexity.

 

As Gabriel is called upon to help his old friend, he is torn between duty to country and the price he has paid for it over the years. The excitement of the caper unfolds on the pages, but there is also a more cerebral feel to “The Heist ” – perhaps a nod to an aging Allon looking back over his life and taking stock. The action is less physical than in the previous book, “The English Girl,” as we are enmeshed in the worlds of art restoration, high finance, bank transfers, and politics, but there is plenty of action nonetheless.

 

“The Heist” is the fourteenth title in the sixteen book (so far) Gabriel Allon series.

 

Please visit www.danielsilvabooks.com for more information about Daniel Silva and his work.

 

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