mystery

Top Ten Reviews – 2018

 

Lots of great books, talented authors, and legions of dedicated booklovers, combined to make 2018 another amazing year of reading. Whether discovering a new author, or returning to a tried and true favorite, the NBR interest was more than double that of last year. Our NBR international community of readers made their choices known for the 'Top Ten Reviews of 2018' in the list shown below.

 

Although not included in the ‘Top Ten Reviews’ list, the response to the 2018 author profiles (Sherry Harris and Jeri Westerson) proved that readers want more of this feature and we will happily provide as many new profiles as the schedule allows. Click on their names – links to books included.

 

Listed in alphabetical order by author (except for ‘Try Something New This Summer’), click on the links to read the reviews for the first time, or to enjoy them again.

 

“Try Something New This Summer” (5 different genres and authors) https://bit.ly/2IZIhU1 

 

“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato   https://wp.me/p2YVin-15v

 

“Circle of Influence” & “No Way Home” by Annette Dashofy https://wp.me/p2YVin-10Y

 

“The Trapped Girl” by Robert Dugoni  https://bit.ly/2DmiRia

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus     https://wp.me/p2YVin-178

 

 “The Code” & “Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce   https://wp.me/p2YVin-14M

 

“Defending Jacob” by William Landay  https://bit.ly/2pJh5C6

 

“Bones to Pick” by Linda Lovely  https://wp.me/p2YVin-Z6

 

“Louise’s War” & “Louise’s Dilemma” by Sarah Shaber  https://bit.ly/2F73Pkx

 

“Scot Harvath Series” by Brad Thor  https://bit.ly/2IzvqYt

 

 

Warm thanks, everyone! May 2019 bring you many page-turning, great new reads.  🙂

 

 

“A Christmas Peril” by J.A. Hennrikus

 

“A Christmas Peril” introduces us to Sully (Edwina) Sullivan, Theater Cop, a former active duty detective in Massachusetts. Sully is now the managing director of the cash-strapped Cliffside Theater Company whose troupe is about to stage the iconic Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. But first, she has to keep Scrooge from quitting, while holding her ex-husband and an old boyfriend at bay. There’s also the matter of the murders.


In the five years since leaving law enforcement, Sully has not lost her sleuthing skills, so when an old friend becomes a person of interest in his father’s murder and needs Sully’s help, she agrees to look into the circumstances. It turns out that every single member of the family is hiding something. With big money, romantic intrigue, and a large company at stake, there is plenty of motive to go around and no shortage of suspects.


Her ex-husband, Gus, complicates matters just by being around, but he’s a lawyer for the dead man’s family, so he’s hard to avoid. Sully still has a soft spot for him, though, and any guy that can make her toes curl can’t be all bad.


“A Christmas Peril” is an absorbing peek behind the curtain at the world of theater production. Costumes have to last for years, tech rehearsals take longer than I would have thought, and the battle for Arts money is a continuing challenge. One of the characters says while half-kidding, (paraphrased so as not to give anything away) “We can’t kill the star. His name is above the title and we would have to refund the tickets.”


Can Sully’s savvy skills save her former boyfriend and the play from disaster? Will she be able to keep from adding her ex-husband to the rising body count? And, what about the murders?


Hennrikus has penned a complex, multi-layered plot that delivers jaw dropping surprises. I could have sworn one of the ‘obvious’ suspects did at least one of the deeds, but instead turned out to be guilty of something else.

 

I’m looking forward to a repeat performance from the personable core group of characters – some quirky, some serious, but always entertaining. You can pre-order book #2 in the series, “With a Kiss I Die,” now. 

 

Please visit www.Jhauthors.com for more information about this Agatha nominated author and her other series.

 

 

 

 

“43 Missing” by Carmen Amato

 

In “43 Missing,” Detective Emilia Cruz, the first woman detective in Acapulco, has been called in on a federal level case – a search for the missing bodies of 43 male college students who participated in an annual protest rally. After stealing busses from a local bus company, they were stopped by the police, handed over to a drug gang, and never seen again.


Cruz is part of a task force of five law enforcement officers hand-picked by the Attorney General’s office because of their lack of affiliation with any previous inquiries or associations with the families. Their parameters are clear: ‘Don’t gather new evidence or interview the families, but the government wants to confirm or deny the conclusions of the previous investigations and put the matter to rest.’


"43 Missing" is based on an actual 2014 case in Mexico. It garnered quite a bit of international attention and was thought at the time to be gang/drug related. Nobody, not even the Mexican government, disputed that. 


In Amato's fictional account, the families want closure. They know the boys are dead, but they have to find where the bodies were buried. It's been a year and a half and the families feel corruption is getting in the way of the truth. They don't want to point fingers or cast blame because they fear for their lives if they do speak up. In “43 Missing,” several previous investigations conducted by various agencies pointed to inadequate actions by the Mexican government, and nothing was done to either bring anyone to justice or to find the bodies.


Emilia agrees to participate because of the connection to an old, intensely personal case. She may be able to find the person, her own brother, against whom she must exact revenge. So far, she has risked everything – friends, an important relationship, her job; now maybe her life.


What is uncovered in "43 Missing" is astounding. Amato is thoroughly convincing in her version of what might have happened in real life. The two cases of the missing boys and Cruz' search for personal revenge overlap in complex and frightening ways. This is a haunting page-turner.


Amato's books are set in Mexico, with vivid images of the country's landscape and unique architecture, both old and new. She includes descriptions of the meals eaten in street-side cafes and great restaurants, reminding me how much I love Mexican food.


Taut writing ramps up the tension in “43 Missing,” as Amato deals with the issues plaguing any two countries battling the drug trade and human trafficking along their borders. The tragedy of decent members of society caught in the crossfire, stayed with me long after I finished the book. 


In real-life, the 43 bodies have yet to be found.


“43 Missing,” nominated for Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion award, is book #6 in the Detective Emilia Cruz series. Please visit http://carmenamato.net/ for more information about Ms. Amato’s distinguished law enforcement background and the other books in the series.

 

 

Halloween Mystery List – 2018

 

Halloween will be here before you know it and if you’d like to pick up a fun read with a seasonal theme, here are fifty-eight titles in our updated 2018 Halloween Mystery List.

 

Some have been around for ages, but others have recently been published or re-published. There are dozens more books with a Halloween theme, so if your favorite is not on the list, please let us know the title and author in the comments.

Click on the bold titles to read more about the individual books.

 

Stacey Alabaster – The Pumpkin Killer

Susan Wittig Albert – Witches' Bane

Ritter Ames and 8 others – Midnight Mysteries: Nine Cozy Tales

Gretchen Archer – Double Jinx

Susan Bernhardt – The Ginseng Conspiracy

Bethany Blake – Dial Meow for Murder

Susan Boles – Death of a Wolfman

Lilian Jackson Braun – Cat Who Talked to Ghosts

Allison Brook – Death Overdue

Rita Mae Brown – The Litter of the Law

Mollie Cox Bryan – Scrapbook of the Dead

Anna Celeste Burke – All Hallows’ Eve Heist

Jessica Burton – Death Goes Shopping

Nora Charles – Death with an Ocean View

Laura Childs – Frill Kill

Agatha Christie – The Hallowe'en Party

Susan Rogers Cooper – Not in My Backyard

E.J. Copperman – Night of the Living Deed

Kathy Cranston – Pumpkins are Murder

Isis Crawford – A Catered Costume Party

Kathi Daley – Henderson House

Jana Deleon – Swamp Spook

Steve Demaree – Murder on Halloween

Carole Nelson Douglas – Cat with an Emerald Eye

Janet Evanovich – Plum Spooky

Connie Feddersen – Dead in the Pumpkin Patch

Vickie Fee – It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To

Honora Finkelstein – The Lawyer Who Died Trying

‘Jessica Fletcher’ & Donald Bain – Trick or Treachery

Eva Gates – The Spook in the Stacks

Daryl Wood Gerber (aka Avery Aames) – Stirring the Plot

Sarah Graves – Nail Biter

Carolyn Haines – Hallowed Bones

Ellen Hart – Sweet Poison

Lee Hollis – Death of a Pumpkin Carver

Carolyn Q. Hunter – Pumpkin Pie Waffle

Ellen Elizabeth Hunter – Murder on the Ghost Walk

Sybil Johnson – Designed for Haunting

Daniel Judson – The Violet Hour

Heather Justesen – Muffins & Murder

Andrew Klavan – The Animal Hour

Cynthia Kuhn – The Spirit in Question

Joyce & Jim Lavene – Ghastly Glass

James Lilley – Death Knocks Twice

Linda Lovely – Picked Off

Alice Loweecey – The Clock Strikes Nun

Karen MacInerney – Deadly Brew

Ed McBain – Tricks: an 87th Precinct Mystery

Jenn McKinlay – Dark Chocolate Demise

G.A. McKevett – Poisoned Tarts

Leslie Meier – Wicked Witch Murder

Mandy Morton – Cat Among the Pumpkins

Liz Mugavero – A Biscuit, a Casket

Julie Mulhern – Send in the Clowns

Katie Penryn – The Witch Who Hated Halloween

Leigh Perry – The Skeleton Haunts a House

Rebecca Tope – Death in the Cotswolds

Diane Vallere – Masking for Trouble

 

If you’ve read any books in the Halloween Mystery List for 2018, please let us know what you thought.

 

Happy Spooky reading.   🙂

 

 

 

“The Code” and “The Black Ace” by G.B. Joyce

 

“The Code” and “The Black Ace” written by award-winning Canadian sportswriter G. B. Joyce, are set in the world of professional hockey. Former pro hockey player, Brad Shade, worked as an investigator for four years post-hockey, but is now an assessor scout for a hockey team based in the States. He interviews junior league prospects and their families, watches them play, and analyzes why they would or would not fit into the franchise. Millions of dollars are at stake and kids that do well in junior hockey might not have what it takes mentally or physically to make a career of it.
 

 

During a scouting trip, Shade has trouble arranging a meet with one of the prospects. In the course of tracking him down, Shade uncovers some disturbing information, a major coverup seems likely, the prospect’s teammate goes missing, and people wind up dead. And Shade gets a chance to apply his P.I. investigative skills to his present scouting gig.

 

“The Code” shows the underbelly of the junior hockey leagues, highlighting the greed and money to be made. Sadly, in any big money sport with youth being fed into the majors, there are parents that chase the dream without regard for what the kids want. And as G.B. Joyce points out, unless there is a real hunger/enthusiasm for the game (not for the fame or money alone), it’s unlikely that even a talented player will have much staying power.

 

A Canadian TV show, “Private Eyes,” is currently being broadcast in the USA. The show is fun and when I discovered that it was based on Joyce’s books, I picked up “The Code,” and soon after, “The Black Ace.” The similarity between the books and the TV show end with the game of hockey and Shade’s stint as a P.I.  Even our hero’s name has been changed to Matt in the TV show. Both versions are good; Shade’s investigations are dogged in both, but on TV he's a full time P.I. and in “The Code” any investigation is tied to the game and his job as a scout.

 

I love the game of hockey in its purest form, so while there is a mystery to be solved in “The Code,” reading this as a sports book was a distinct pleasure. I saw several episodes of the show before picking up the books, and each brings something new to my understanding of both P.I. work and the game of hockey.
 

 

“The Black Ace” is the second book in this hockey/detective series.

Shade is now the official scouting director for the L.A. team, but still spends a lot of time on the road checking out prospects in the junior leagues. 
 

He learns that former teammate and roommate, Martin Mars, has died and that his death has been classified as a suicide. Shade and "Whisper" played together in a history making, five overtime game. On behalf of the franchise, he and a colleague, Chief, attend the funeral. When Shade and Chief pay their respects, the widow shares her doubts that her husband could have committed suicide and asks Shade to look into it. 
 

Shade can’t say no, but Chief has a bad feeling about the situation. Before long, they are beaten up, jailed, threatened, and no closer to the truth. The mystery is why anybody would care enough about their presence to harass them. Shade is not intimidated, won’t leave town because of his promise to the widow, and the threats blow back on the bad guys. He and Chief do some digging, uncover Mars’ shocking past, as well as a mega bucks deal that may be the reason Mars is dead.
 

Shade had attitude on the ice and his off-ice personality hasn't changed. His view of the world is a tad snarky, but he’s entitled. Shade’s manager blew his millions on a shady real estate deal and Shade’s ACL was shredded by an opponent he never liked. But that snarky veneer shows cracks when faced with a good person who needs help and when guilt for his own actions in the past come skating into the present.
 

As Joyce walks us through the process of choosing the next Wayne Gretzky or Martin Brodeur, we learn what kinds of deals need to be made to protect the players and/or the front office. Both books contain lots of tidbits about the life of a hockey player. Did you know that the players fly first class because the seats are bigger/wider? Most of the players have well developed thighs and shoulders and they simply can’t fit into the seats in economy. And here I thought they were just after the special drinks and snacks only available up front.
 

Shade is a complex character, nicely layered with references to the impact life on the road has on his personal relationships. He’s upfront about the career ending injuries he and other players have sustained and knows full well that he was not a gifted player, just a very smart one with a genuine love of the game.

 

According to the online booksellers, “The Code” and “The Black Ace” are followed by “The Third Man In,” rounding out the Brad Shade series. It’s on my ’to buy’ list.

 

Please visit    https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/authors/14875/gare-joyce   to learn more about G.B. Joyce (Gare Joyce for non-fiction) and his books.

 

 

 

 

 

K9 Fiction: Mysteries, Suspense, and Thrillers

 

Drug sniffing Belgian Malinois, Police Officer Joy

 

Are you a dog owner or a dog lover who loves to read mysteries and thrillers? Then this list was created for you. These are military and law enforcement novels featuring dogs in a primary role. Several of the books were recommended by fans of the Nightstand Book Reviews website, and others were suggested by NBR subscribers themselves.

 

Click on the author names. Those links will take you to their websites and more information about the novels. Happy choosing. 🙂

 

Robert Crais  “Suspect” & “The Promise,” feature Maggie, the police dog and her handler Scott James, both war veterans. “Suspect” has been optioned for a movie.

 

Susan Furlong  “Splintered Silence,” Book #1 in the Bone Gap Travellers series. A war veteran and her injured military dog return to Appalachia and solve a crime. Rave reviews. More books on the way.

 

Alex Kava   “Breaking Creed” is Book #1 in the Ryder Creed series. Ex-Marine, Ryder Creed, and his K-9 Search and Rescue dogs, team with FBI profiler Maggie O’Dell.

 

Diane Kelly  “Paw Enforcement” is the first book of nine in the Paw Enforcement Mystery series. Police officer Megan Luz and her loyal K-9 partner Brigit, are the heart of the series.

 

Ronie Kendig  A Breed Apart faith based, action oriented series about military war dogs and their handlers.

 

Margaret Mizushima “Killing Trail” is the first of the award-winning Timber Creek K9 Mysteries featuring Deputy Mattie Cobb, her police dog partner Robo, and veterinarian Cole Walker. Set in Colorado.

 

Paula Munier  “Borrowing of Bones” features a retired soldier and her bomb-sniffing dog who work with U.S. Game Warden Troy Warner and his Search and Rescue canine, in a mystery set in rural Vermont.

 

Barbara Nickless  “Blood on the Tracks” Railroad police Special Agent Sydney Parnell and her K9 partner Clyde, solve crimes in this gritty new thriller series.

 

Spencer Quinn   Chet and Bernie Mysteries with Chet, the canine narrator, who works alongside Bernie, a down-on-his-luck private investigator.

 

Nora Roberts “The Search” Search and Rescue dog trainer/romantic suspense set in the Pacific Northwest.

 

James Rollins and Grant Blackwood, The Tucker Wayne series. Part of the Sigma Force world, featuring former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and Kane, his military working dog companion.

 

David Rosenfelt  Andy Carpenter series. Carpenter is a New Jersey lawyer, a dog lover whose cases always revolve around dogs.

Bloodhound, Police Officer Bocephus

 

Happy Reading!   🙂

 

 

 

 

“Lake of Fire” by Mark Stevens

 

Book Cover "Lake of Fire"

 

Allison Coil, big game hunting guide and occasional investigator in the mountains of Colorado, is back in "Lake of Fire," by Mark Stevens. He  continues the environmental theme of his award-winning series and  focuses on a monster fire that threatens to consume Alison's beloved Flat Top Wilderness. 


Devo, a back to nature enthusiast featured in the series, has been stripping back the layers of civilization and living completely off the land. Devo now leads a working commune of fellow devotees hidden deep in the woods.


During a wide-ranging walk, Devo spots the fire and discovers a charred body, along with possible evidence that the fire was set. A natural phenomenon could be dealt with, but a criminal act that purposely puts them all at risk? Another matter entirely. Devo must balance his wish for his enclave to remain hidden from the world with his desire to do the right thing. Report the body to the authorities? Okay, but only through Allison Coil.


Against the backdrop of the spreading Flat Top fires and the loss of hundreds of homes, Allison works to solve the gruesome murder. She and her friends must contend with a dangerous anti-government group whose leaders don’t care about the fallout, only that they be heard. Stevens’ complex core ensemble characters have developed in each book, with Allison and Trudy emotionally stronger, and Colin and Duncan now more vulnerable. Each has challenges to face, and the subplots intertwine until reaching their unexpected conclusions.


Woven through the storyline, Stevens presents the disaster-fueled dilemma: Should people flee and leave behind a lifetime of sweat and memories? Should they stay and fight to save the property at the peril of their own lives? “Lake of Fire” could be ripped from the headlines as real-life wildfires besiege the Midwest during another dry season.


Uncommonly warm temperatures, tinder dry trees, overworked firefighters, inadequate resources to combat miles of fire – all combine with catastrophic results. A close friend of mine and her family lost everything except the dog and the clothes on their backs to a wildfire. It changed direction and took everything. There was warning, but no options without sufficient water to fight it.


Stevens creates frightening fire scenes as the flames alternately surround Allison on horseback and later approach Colin’s family ranch. He takes a sobering look at how the fires are prioritized when little can be done. “Lake of Fire” touches on some very real political and environmental issues facing Colorado, while delivering a chilling murder mystery.


Please visit www.writermarkstevens.com for information about his other works as well as the soon-to-be-released “The Melancholy Howl.“