romance

“Cuff Lynx” by Fiona Quinn

 

Book Cover - Cuff Lynx

Lexi Sobado is back in Fiona Quinn’s fourth book in the Lynx series, “Cuff Lynx.” Lexi has mostly recovered from her last mission and on the first day back at the Iniquus office, senses something is not quite right with the headquarters of her top secret world. Iniquus is under attack and she needs to figure out how and why even though she’s not yet 100%.

 

Lexi’s regular role at Iniquus is to ‘puzzle’ the plans and tactics of field missions. She has the unusual skill of ‘knowing’ when something isn’t what it should be. She has a sixth sense, a psychic sense that becomes heightened well beyond the norm in the presence of evil.

 

Her skills are put to the test when she hears that Ops are failing, the founder of Iniquus, General Elliot, is in a coma, clients are losing confidence, valuable art is involved, and to top it off, Striker Rheas, Lexi’s heart’s desire, is teamed up with a gorgeous woman with few scruples. What else could go wrong? In “Cuff Lynx,” quite a lot.

 

Lexi has out-of-body experiences that help her gather Intel about the location of other people without having to leave the office or use a computer, and when she goes ‘behind the Veil’ at great risk to herself, we believe it. Quinn’s descriptions of those psychic missions are absorbing and keep the pages turning. The concept underpinning the use of the ‘Veil’ raises questions about how intelligence is gathered in the real world. If fact-gatherers were able to use this technique, would the Intel be of better quality or be obtained more quickly? Fascinating futuristic talking points.

 

The problems multiply, the evildoers abound and in “Cuff Lynx,” we’re not sure if the good guys (including her lover) are on Lexi’s side. Our heroine is a mix of sweetness, naiveté and single-mindedness unusual for an average person her age and that mix is what makes Lexi Sobado so refreshing as a central character in a thriller. The supporting characters are dedicated Special Ops professionals and Lexi’s softer character makes an intriguing contrast to the hard-core military types.

 

Over the course of the series, she is widowed, stalked by a killer, held in captivity, chased, scarred, loved, and trained in special skills that not even her Iniquus team can know about – all at a break neck pace.

 

“Cuff Lynx” can be read as a stand alone, but it’s much more fun if you read them all to experience the development of Lexi’s character and her relationship with the various members of her team. Quinn told me recently that she plans to feature the other characters in their own books. Cool.

 

Please visit www.fionaquinnbooks.com for information about the rest of Quinn’s work in fiction and non-fiction.

 

 

 

 

“Chasing Fire” by Nora Roberts

 

Book Cover - Chasing Fire

“Chasing Fire,” by New York Times bestselling author Nora Roberts, explores the world of adrenaline-pumping fire jumping in the northern USA forests.

 

Smokejumper Rowan Tripp follows in her famous father’s footsteps, spending summers fighting dangerous fires in Montana, pushing back against the raw power that challenges them every day in the field. When former Hotshot (experienced wildfire fighter) Gulliver Curry shows up as a smokejumper recruit at the Missoula base, Rowan is immediately singled out as a target for his affection. She says she doesn’t date rookies. He says he’ll get her to change her mind.

 

These are highly trained firefighters that work for long hours in volatile, hazardous conditions for days on end, sometimes being cut off from food, water, and help for long periods of time. Hotshots are specially trained to work a fire in the woods with chain saws and axes; smokejumpers have the additional training and challenge of parachuting into a fire when it can’t be reached on foot. If they’re lucky, they get to shower every couple of days.

 

“Chasing Fire” is remarkable in its descriptions of the exhausting life of a smokejumper. When not on duty working a fire, they are busy working out so that they can maintain their exceptional physical fitness. The guys and gals jump into the fire in remote mountain areas, ready to go, and must be as self-sufficient as possible. Their equipment and supplies are dropped in after the firefighters land. Part of the backstory important to Rowan’s struggles has to do with an unfortunate jump that her partner made, and the incredible guilt she carries.

 

Roberts did a great deal of research to get the details nailed down and it shows in the many harrowing fire scenes. The smokejumpers beat the fire back, saw trees and limbs, brake the fire’s progress, sometimes getting surrounded or burned, sometimes carrying out injured people. Gripping descriptions of the fires made me feel as if I had a front row seat.

 

A special bond is created among the firefighters as they risk their lives for each other every time they jump. The job is incredibly dangerous, but the jumpers look forward to the challenge and the victory.

 

But, if that kind of excitement isn’t enough in “Chasing Fire,” someone is setting fires during the dry season, first to cover up a murder, then to see the forest burn.

 

There are multiple suspects for the horrific deeds – mentally unstable characters and people out for revenge. There is a ripple effect of actions/emotions in all directions, with remorse and misplaced blame part of the mix. The stakes are ramped up as the plot unfolds and jumpers' lives are placed at risk.

 

With over 400 million copies of her books sold, Nora Roberts is accomplished at creating living, breathing, fully-developed characters. In “Chasing Fire,” she delivers a thrilling plot and pays homage to a heroic group of men and women as well. And, of course, there’s the hot romance.  😉

 

For more information about Nora Roberts (aka J.D. Robb) please visit www.noraroberts.com

 

 

Writers and The Writers’ Police Academy

 

WPA Logo.jpg

The readers at www.kerriansnotebook.com have heard me chat about The Writers’ Police Academy (created by Lee Lofland) on many occasions. They have seen the photos, read the posts and remarked on the amazing experiences shared at each WPA. The questions I hear most often are:

 

  • Since a bunch of writers attend those events, what kinds of books do they write?
  • Are any of them reporters?
  • Are they all mystery/crime writers?
  • Do they write cozies or thrillers?

 

Here’s a chance to let the readers of both Kerrian’s Notebook and Nightstand Book Reviews know what the FAB writers from WPA contribute to our reading pleasure.

 

The authors are listed alphabetically, along with a photo of one of their book covers and the clickable links to their websites. Many of the writers in this terrific list have been nominated (and/or awarded) for their great writing. Their websites will reveal all! Some are debut novelists; some have several series underway. Book content ranges from PG to hot and steamy, from cozy to hard-boiled, from friendly adventure to fast-paced thriller, along with non-fiction titles that provide true crime and forensics information, so there is something for everyone. More will be added to the list each week until the middle of September (2015). Please check them out. 🙂

 

Stacy Allen  "Expedition Indigo"    

Book Cover - Expedition Indigo

 

 

 

 

www.stacyallenauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

Melanie Atkins  "Bayou Bounty Hunters Book 2: Sealing His Fate"

WPASealingHisFate - Melanie Atkinswww.melanieatkins.com

 

 

 

Allison Brennan  "Best Laid Plans"

WPA Best Laid Plans - Allison Brennan

 

 

 

 

 

www.allisonbrennan.com

 

 

 

 

Robin Burcell  "The Kill Order"

WPA The Kill Order - Robin Burcell

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.robinburcell.com

 

 

 

 

Kris Calvert  "Sex, Lies & Sweet Tea"

SexLiesSweetTeaCover1

 

 

 

 

 

www.kriscalvert.com

 

 

 

 

Kait Carson  "Death by Blue Water"

WPADeath By Blue Water - Kait Carsonwww.kaitcarson.com

 

 

Merit Clark  "Killing Streak"

WPAkilling Streak - Merit Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.meritclark.com

 

 

 

Marco Conelli  "Matthew Livingston & The Politics of Death"

WPA Politics of Death - Marco Conelli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.marcoconelli.com

 

 

 

Doug M. Cummings  "Easy Evil"

WPA Easy Evil - Doug M Cummings

 

 

 

 

 

www.dougmcummingsauthor.com

 

 

 

 

 

Kate Flora  "And Grant You Peace"

WPA And Grant You Peace - Kate Flora

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.kateflora.com

 

 

 

 

Kaye George/Janet Cantrell  "Fat Cat Spreads Out"

WPAFat Cat Spreads Out - Janet Cantrell-Kaye Georgewww.kayegeorge.wix.com

 

 

John Gilstrap  "Against All Enemies"

WPA Against All Enemies -John Gilstrap

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.johngilstrap.com

 

 

 

Stacy Green  "All Good Deeds"

WPA All Good Deeds - Stacy Green

 

 

 

 

www.stacygreen.net

 

 

 

 

Judy Hogan  "Farm Fresh and Fatal"

WPAFarm Fresh and Fatal - Judy Hogan

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.judyhogan.home.mindspring.com

 

 

 

Bill Hopkins  "Courting Murder"

WPACourting Murder - Bill Hopkinshttp://deadlyduo.wix.com/thedeadlyduo

 

 

Sharon Woods Hopkins "Killerwatt"

WPA Killerwatt - Sharon Woods Hopkins

 

 

 

 

 

http://deadlyduo.wix.com/thedeadlyduo

 

 

 

 

 

Polly Iyer  "Backlash"

WPABacklash - Polly Iyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.PollyIyer.com

 

 

 

Linda Johnson  "Trail of Destruction"

WPA Trail Of Destruction - Linda Johnson

 

 

 

 

 

www.LindaJohnson.us

 

 

 

 

Lee Lofland  "Police Procedure & Investigation"

WPA Police Procedure & Investigation - Lee Lofland

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.leelofland.com

 

 

 

 

 

Linda Lovely  "Dead Hunt"

WPADead Hunt - Linda Lovely

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.lindalovely.com

 

 

 

 

Edith Maxwell  "Farmed and Dangerous"

WPAFarmed and Dangerous - Edith Maxwell

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.edithmaxwell.com

 

 

 

Patricia McLinn  "Sign Off"

WPA Sign Off - Patricia McLinn

 

 

 

 

 

www.patriciamclinn.com

 

 

 

 

Donna Blanchard McNicol  "Barely a Spark"

WPA Barely a Spark - DB McNicol

 

 

 

 

 

www.dbmcnicol.com

 

 

 

 

Catriona McPherson  "The Child Garden"

WPA The Child Garden - Catriona McPherson.png

 

 

 

 

 

www.catrionamcpherson.com

 

 

 

 

Linda Mickey  "Test Scores"

WPA Test Scores - Linda Mickey

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.lindamickey.com

 

 

 

 

Liz Mugavero  "Icing on the Corpse"

WPAIcing onthe Corpse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.lizmugavero.com

 

 

 

Pamela Oberg  "Rogue Wave"

WPA Rogue Wave - Pamela Oberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.facebook.com/stonecreekwriting

 

 

 

Terry Odell  "Deadly Production"

WPADeadly Production - Terry Odell

 

 

 

 

 

www.terryodell.com

 

 

 

 

Alec Peche  "Death on a Green"

WPA Death on a Green - Alec Peche

 

 

 

 

 

www.alecpeche.com

 

 

 

 

Ashantay Peters  "Death Stretch"

WPADeath Stretch - Ashantay Peters

 

 

 

 

 

www.Ashantay.com

 

 

 

 

 

Patti Phillips  "Kerrian's Notebook, Volume 1"

WPA KN_Vol 1 fingerprint_cover_- copy 3

 

 

 

 

 

www.kerriansnotebook.com

 

 

 

Mar Preston  "A Very Private High School"

WPA A Very Private High School - Mar Preston

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.marpreston.com

 

 

 

 

Karen Pullen  "Cold Feet"

WPACold Feet - Karen Pullen

 

 

 

 

 

www.karenpullen.com

 

 

 

 

Fiona Quinn  "Weakest Lynx"

Book Cover - Weakest Lynx

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.ThrillWriting.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

Dr. Katherine Ramsland  "The Mind of a Murderer"

WPA The Mind of a Murderer - Katherine Ramsland

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.katherineramsland.com

 

 

 

 

K.T. Roberts  "Deadly Obsessions"

WPA Deadly Obsessions - KT Roberts

 

 

 

 

 

www.ktrobertsmysteries.com

 

 

 

 

Mike Roche  "The Blue Monster"

WPA The Blue Monster - Mike Roche

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.mikeroche.com

 

 

 

 

Lori Ryan  "The Billionaire's Suite Dreams"

WPAThe Billionaire's Suite Dreams - Lori Ryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.loriryanromance.com

 

 

 

 

Jamie Lee Scott  "Let Us Prey" – Gotcha Detective Agency Mystery, Book 1

WPA Let Us Prey - Jamie Lee Scott

 

 

 

 

 

www.jamieleescott.com

 

 

 

 

Terry Shames  "A Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge"

WPAA Deadly Affair at Bobtail Ridge - Terry Shames

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.TerryShames.com

 

 

 

 

Sarah Levine Simon  "Winged Victory"

WPA Winged Victory - Sarah Levine Simon

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.sandbookstudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

Alexandra Sokoloff  "Cold Moon" – The Huntress/FBI thrillers

WPA Cold Moon - Alexandra Sokoloff

 

 

 

 

 

www.alexandrasokoloff.com

 

 

 

 

Nancy Sweetland  "The Virgin Murders"

WPA The Virgin Murders - Nancy Sweetland

 

 

 

 

 

www.NancySweetlandWrites.com

 

 

 

 

 

Ellis Vidler  "Prime Target"

WPAPrime Target - Ellis Vidler

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.ellisvidler.com

 

 

 

 

Elaine Viets  "Checked Out"

WPA Checked Out - Elaine Viets

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.elaineviets.com

 

 

 

 

 

Tamara Ward  "Private Deception"

WPA Private Deception - Tamara Ward

 

 

 

 

 

www.authortamaraward.com/jade-oreilly-series/

 

 

 

 

Nancy G. West  "Smart, But Dead"

WPA SMART BUT DEAD - Nancy G West

 

 

 

 

 

www.nancygwest.com

 

 

 

 

Lynn Chandler Willis  "Wink of an Eye"

Book Cover - Wink of an Eye

 

 

 

 

 

 

www.lynnchandlerwillis.com

 

 

 

 

 

Not a novel, but several WPA presenters contributed stories to this Mystery Writers of America collection, "Vengeance."

Lee Child, Editor

WPA Vengeance Anthology

Alafair Burke

Michael Connelly

Rick McMahan

Karin Slaughter

 

http://amzn.com/0316176354

 

Happy Reading, everyone!!!  🙂

 

 

 

 

“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

 

Book Cover - Outlander

 

The “Outlander” series, by Diana Gabaldon, has been a sensation in the historical fiction arena, blending time-travel, romance, and adventure into one terrific story. Why do we love “Outlander?” It’s well-written, crosses genres beautifully, and the broad sweep of the storyline is just plain fun.

 

Claire Randall is a former combat nurse, home from WW2 in 1945. She has been reunited with her husband, Frank, and they are enjoying a second honeymoon in the Scottish Highlands after a long, war-caused separation. On the lookout for interesting flowers and herbs, she wanders into a circle of ancient stones said to be the legendary Merlin stones, touches one of the stones and disappears. That is, disappears from 1945 and pops up in 1743 – right into the middle of the Jacobite rebellion, with Bonnie Prince Charlie attempting to take over the throne of England.

 

With her English and slightly alien accent, she is soon called Sassenach (an outlander) by the MacKenzie clan that rescues her from an assault by a British soldier (her husband’s ancestor) and is suspected by everyone of being a spy. But, for whom? Her rescuers, in part to use her as a bargaining chip, keep her hostage.

 

Her skill as a healer is discovered when she meets injured Jamie Fraser and that ensures her safety until her fate can be decided. “Outlander” reveals Gabaldon’s tremendous amount of research into the uses of botanicals for healing both in 1945 and two hundred years earlier. We are treated to descriptions of herbs, the drugs available in both centuries, the limits of medicine in the 1700s, the choices available, and even the handling of prisoners. The wisdom of the modern medical era is applied to herbal remedies of the 1700s, but often, Claire just has to make do.

 

Gabaldon has written the developing relationship between Claire and Jamie realistically within the constraints of the time travel strand. Claire can’t reveal when she is really from – nobody would understand it – and Jamie does not quite trust her since her circumstances don’t really ring true. Claire has a modern sense of humor and Jamie is puzzled by her references to John Wayne and her cursing. And, yet, they each feel an attraction as they are thrown together repeatedly during the action. The complexity of Scottish clan rivalry is explored, alliances for and against the British are created, and Claire occasionally uses her knowledge of history to protect the people in her immediate circle.

 

“Outlander” succeeds in part because of its intimate portrait of a marriage, with its moments of personal truths, physical intimacy, enduring love, and sometimes hilarious banter. Two strong-willed people are forced into a union of convenience in order to save their lives and the relationship is raw and wonderful. There are sometimes tender and sometimes rough, bedroom scenes between Jamie and Claire. There are graphic descriptions of an attempted rape as well as an actual rape with another character. Gabaldon does not mince words, so be forewarned that this is well-done adult reading.

 

The Jacobite rebellion and the surrounding political turmoil drive the tale, but it’s the characters that keep us spellbound until the last page. There are good guys and bad, some of whom are both in order to survive in a dangerous political climate, and one who is undeniably evil. We don’t always know whom to trust. The supporting characters are colorful, complex, as well as entertaining, and add depth and realism to the multi-layered plot.

 

The time travel is brilliantly handled. Claire tries on multiple occasions to return to the stones in order to get back to her own time, but as she falls more deeply in love with Jamie, she is torn between leaving him and her responsibility to the husband she left behind. Along the way, she discovers that she may not be the only person who has traveled through the stones.

 

I laughed during the engaging dialogue, cringed at the choices that needed to be made and cried during some desperate moments for more than one character. When the book ended, I was very happy that there were more titles in the series to be read.

 

The novel won the Romance Writers of America's RITA Award for Best Romance of 1991. The first seven books in the series sold over twenty million copies and landed on the NYT bestseller lists six times. The eighth book in the series was published in June, 2014. A TV series based on the first book, “Outlander,” debuted in the USA in August, 2014.

 

For more information about Diana Gabaldon and her work, please visit www.dianagabaldon.com

 

 

 

 

“The Book of Lost Fragrances” by M.J. Rose

 

Book Cover - Book of Lost Fragrances

MJ Rose delivers another suspenseful tale with The Book of Lost Fragrances.

 

A brother and sister have inherited the House of L'Etoile, and then discover the perfume company is in serious financial difficulty. They need a hit fragrance to save the corporation or else parts of it will have to be sold off, something Robbie does not want to do. Robbie feels that delving into the 250 year old family business history will uncover an ancient perfume formula that will save the day. He has the professional talent, but not the nose to sort through formulas that he knows the family possesses, somewhere hidden. His sister, Jac, has the nose, but not the interest in investigating something that she considers a fantasy. She is more pragmatic and wants to sell off bits to save the whole. Neither of them suspects at first that the lost fragrance could save more than just the business.

 

During the years since her mother’s death, Jac has suffered with unsettling dreams she does not understand. For a long time she (and others) thought she was mentally unbalanced and she never believed that she might be reliving the distant past. Her struggle with her own past, her trust issues, and her conversations with family ghosts – create a multi-layered, vulnerable lead character. We want her to make the right decisions, to be happy, trust, and find love again.

 

M.J. Rose believes that who we were influences who we are today, and her four books in the Reincarnation series apply that concept across the centuries. The Book of Lost Fragrances deals with the power of a love that endures from the time of Cleopatra. Fragrance is employed in the book as a memory tool to not only attempt to bring reincarnated lovers back together, but also as an aid in returning to a difficult time when one can undo mistakes and therefore ease the pain of the future. If it’s true that a memory tool exists and has that kind of influence, it would change the world as we know it. In The Book of Lost Fragrances, governments and religious institutions race to find this tool before it falls into the wrong hands.

 

The brother and sister have an interesting dynamic and as we learn the business and history of perfumery from the inside out, their desperate interaction rings true on every level, even after a murder is committed and Robbie is suspected. A former lover, who knows them both, adds tension and intrigue to the mystery. Dr. Malachi Samuels, a scientist working to prove that reincarnation exists, is a recurring character in the four books, continuing his search for ancient memory tools, sometimes involving others in dangerous schemes to achieve his own goals, always under scrutiny by the FBI.

 

Supporting characters are well written in this enthralling tale that addresses issues in Tibet and China, the Dali Lama, the French Revolution, lost and found again lovers, Cleopatra’s priceless perfume formula book, and more. Students of archeology will be drawn to the importance of ancient Egyptian pottery shards in the storyline.

 

Rose is a master at writing sensual descriptions and I found myself emotionally enveloped in the aromas of the flowers and herbs described. I was transported to memories of my own experiences with these same blossoms. The peonies in my own yard beckoned me, even though blooming season had long been over. 

 

Rose always does impeccable research in order to build the historical foundation for the ‘Reincarnation’ books. Each title spans several centuries and countries and she has openly admitted loving this part of her process. While working on The Book of Lost Fragrances, Rose sent the manuscript to a perfumer in France, who designed a fragrance (Ames Soeurs) inspired by the book. She subsequently showed the fragrance in NYC when the book was being launched. 

 

The Book of Lost Fragrances was on the ‘Indie Next List’ in 2012 and was named one of the Top Ten Mystery/Thrillers for 2012 by Publishers Weekly. While it is part of a series, it is a solid stand-alone title. Just don’t let it be.

 

For more information about M.J.Rose, the Reincarnation series, her other books, as well as her AuthorBuzz work, please visit www.mjrose.com

To read my review of "The Reincarnationist," go here.

 

 

 

“The Stephanie Plum Series” by Janet Evanovich

 

Book Cover - Sizzling Sixteen

Janet Evanovich and her bounty hunter heroine, Stephanie Plum, have been linked for all time since the first Plum treat, “One for the Money,” was published twenty books ago.

 

Fans can’t get enough of the odd-ball characters, wacky adult plotlines and fab romantic triangle that inhabit every book. Ranger is a bounty hunter extraordinaire (among other talents) is always dressed in black, has a fleet of black cars and a small army of elite back-up guys at his disposal, and makes it his business to follow and protect Stephanie wherever she goes. Joe Morelli, Stephanie’s hunky former high school flame, is a Trenton detective who frequently works the other side of the law from Ranger. And Stephanie likes them both. A lot.

 

Stephanie works for her slimy cousin Vinnie, a bail bondsman with questionable associations. The plus side? He can't fire her, no matter how bad she is at her job. They're family.

 

Over the years, Stephanie has become a little more skilled at taking down the skips (meaning she sometimes actually takes her not-always-loaded gun along) but she still needs help from Lula and Ranger to get the job done. With a side-kick like Lula (gun-happy and indulging in the worst diets on the planet) Stephanie faces down pimps and killers, armed with her need to pay the bills. She gets shot at, loses more cars than any insurance company would tolerate, and never seems to catch the perps on the first try. Steph still can’t commit in her relationships, but if she ever did, we might lose the duo of smoldering men.

 

Our gal Stephanie has the nuttiest family ever to sit down to 6:00 dinner. Grandma Mazur has been known to shoot at the dinner (with a gun, not a camera) and never misses a viewing at a funeral home. Dad keeps his fork buried in the roast beef and mashed potatoes and mumbles to get through the meals. Mom is the best cook in the Burg, but nips a little (okay – a lot) in the kitchen to help her cope with Stephanie’s still unmarried status and embarrassing occupation.  

 

“Sizzling Sixteen” was quick, funny and raunchy as always, with Stephanie, Lula and Connie (Vinnie's secretary) out to raise a million dollars to save Vinnie from the bookies who want to blow up the bail bonds office. This time, the most inept bounty hunters in the business have a lucky bottle to help them. Let’s face it, the fans don’t read the Plum books for the deep, insightful plots. We’re looking for quirky and we want to know what’s going to happen with Stephanie and the two handsome guys. Stephanie and Joe have broken up (or have they?) and she daydreams (and more) about Ranger. I wonder if sales of Bulgari Green have risen since the series began…

 

In “Smokin’ Seventeen,” Stephanie Plum still can’t decide who grabs her heart…Ranger or Joe. If you want to declare your choice publicly to the world, stickers you can attach to your clothing are included in the book. The bounty hunting part of this seventeenth installment in the series includes vampires (you have to read this one to believe it), dancing bears and guys trying to kill our cash challenged heroine. And this time Ranger’s crew has a pool to see how long it takes for Stephanie to blow up one of his sleek black cars. As always, a fun read for Evanovich fans. 

Book Cover - Takedown Twenty

 

 

I haven’t read my copy of “Takedown Twenty” yet, but once I start, phones, computer and all communication with the outside world will stop until I finish the last hilarious page. I hear that a giraffe named Kevin is running around the streets of Trenton, a mob boss is on the loose and Stephanie is playing Bingo at a senior center with Grandma Mazur in order to solve a murder. What could go wrong?
 

Please visit www.evanovich.com to see the latest news about her books, read about her recent collaboration with Lee Goldberg, and look at all the Ranger/Morelli/Plum goodies available.

 

 

 

“Lowcountry Bribe” by C. Hope Clark

 

Book Cover - LowCountry Bribe

 

Seeing blood splattered all over the office is not the way I’d like to start the business day, but that’s exactly what Carolina Slade, Federal Agent for the Department of Agriculture near Charleston, South Carolina, encounters one morning. A co-worker, Lucas Sherwood, has committed suicide and Slade’s life is about to take a drastic turn for the worse as well.

 

Just when the business of giving loans to the local farmers seems to fall back into the normal routine, a hog farmer, Jesse Rawlings, arrives with a truckload of smelly, dead hogs, and attempts to bribe Ms. Slade into helping him get title to a farm in the area. In exchange for $10,000 and maybe a little action on the side. She’s not interested in either and it doesn’t take too long for her to report the attempted bribe to her boss. Her husband disagrees with her decision, is anything but supportive and constantly demonstrates why their marriage is on the rocks.

 

Enter Wayne Largo, Senior Special Agent, who arrives to investigate the incident. Mr. Largo and his partner, Eddie, feel that Slade needs to go undercover in order to nail Jesse for what he has done.

 

Slade never hesitates about reporting the bribe, but is surprised by the fallout. She is implicated as complicit in the very charges she has reported, and nobody is happy about the charges except the investigators. Even they seem to stop believing her version of the events. And the hog farmer knows where she lives.

 

C. Hope Clark delivers a story that includes corruption and greed, a scheme much broader in scope than a mere bribery attempt, kidnapping, tacky affairs, real estate fraud, and renewed interest in the case of Mickey Wilder, another co-worker who had disappeared the year before. Supposed friends turn out to be foes and the office is a hostile environment. Yup, Ms. Slade’s life is rapidly unraveling.

 

Slade’s bad marriage plays a twisty role in the story, not just as background for the character, but along the way brings a serious ring of truth to her inner thoughts. We see Slade shift realistically between hate, anger, disappointment, and frustration over the love that faded long before. We feel her pain at having/needing to end the marriage in order to move into happier/healthier direction. In one of the many moments of clarity about divorce she says, “Nobody wins.”

 

Carolina Slade is a bright, feisty, strong character who is up to everything thrown at her, and C. Hope Clark has wisely written Slade with a bit of vulnerability to soften the snarky retorts that slip out. At one point, her car is rear-ended twice by someone, but she has no proof, did not see the license and she dismisses the federal agents concern with, “Murder? We shared paint. Cut the dramatics.” And yet, her hand is shaking when she tries to use her key.

 

There are several great supporting characters. The bad guys are slimy, nasty and cold to the bone, but we also know that her dad and her best friend will always be there for her. The relationship that develops between Slade and Largo is an interesting one and fun to read as the two people grapple with their emotions.

 

The area of South Carolina in “Lowcountry Bribe” appears desolate, maybe even a bit creepy, at times. What came to mind was how easily somebody could get lost forever, without ever a possibility of being found. Terrific setting for this story.

 

The book is based in part on an actual bribery case in the author’s personal experience, although Ms. Clark has insisted the murders in the novel are fictional.

 

“Lowcountry Bribe” won the Silver Falchion Award at Killer Nashville in 2012 as well as the EPIC award for best mystery.

To read my review of the third book in the Carolina Slade series, "Palmetto Poison," go here.

For more information about C. Hope Clark, her books, and her marvelous Funds for Writers, please visit www.chopeclark.com