Book Review: Weave a Murderous Web by Anne Rothman-Hicks, Ken Hicks

RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

WEAVE A MURDEROUS WEB by Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks is a fast paced thriller full of duplicity and a twisted murder mystery featuring a strong, smart-mouthed female protagonist who narrates the story. Even though the main character is a lawyer and it begins with a custody case, it is not a legal thriller set in a courtroom. This book is the second in the Jane Larson series, but it is easily read as a standalone.

Jane Larson is an intense litigator for a major New York City law firm who does not like to lose. An associate in her firm asks Jane for her assistance for a friend in a simple divorce and custody case. The case turns out to be anything, but simple. Jane’s client, Gail Hollings is only interested in how much money her ex is hiding from her. The associate, Francine is more of a mother to Courtney than Jane’s client. The ex is a slimy attorney with mob associates and dealing drugs on the side until he turns up dead.

Jane finds that every person involved in this case has a secret or motive to hide and they all could be the killer. As she delves deeper, her friends and enemies warn her to get out, but Jane just has to figure out what is really happening and why. It could cost her more than just the case.

Jane is an intelligent, witty and dogged main character. Even after several attempts on her life, she just has to find the answers to what is really happening. The plot is fast paced and full of twists and red herrings. The only problem I had with this story was the number of characters involved. They all seem important, but you also need to keep a score card to keep all of their relationships straight. Other than that small point, I would definitely recommend this to all who love a strong female protagonist and/or a tightly woven thriller.

Book Review: Death Plays a Part by Vivian Conroy

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

DEATH PLAYS A PART (Cornish Castle Mystery Book 1) by Vivian Conroy is the first of a new cozy mystery series featuring Guinevere Evans and her adorable dachshund, Dolly. It is a clever locked room cozy set in an old castle on a tidal island off the coast of Cornwall.

Guinevere is a costume designer for a London theater that has to close for renovations over the summer. She receives an offer to work and live at Cornisea castle cataloguing their library. She is excited to have a summer of island adventures with Dolly to tell all of her theater family about in the fall.

When she arrives on Cornisea, she is immediately thrown into the mix of players that are producing a reenactment of the medieval trial of Branok the Cold-hearted. Arthur Haydock is playing Branok and is locked in a cell in the dungeon for the rehearsal and found stabbed to death by the cast. Only Lord Bolingbrooke has a key to the cell, but he swears he is innocent even though he and Haydock were at odds. Guinevere and Dolly, with the help of Oliver, Lord Bolingbrooke’s son who has returned after traveling the world, work to uncover all of the players’ secrets and motives for wanting Haydock dead.

I enjoyed every aspect of this story. The plot was tightly woven and had me guessing until the end, even though I suspected who was responsible, I could not figure out the “How”. The pacing is steady and as you read the story, you are always given some new piece of the puzzle that makes you want to continue on. The setting of the castle and village on the tidal island was vividly described and a unique setting.

Guinevere is a main character that I am looking forward to reading more about. We gets peeks into her past, but some things are still unclear. She is mature and steady even though she is only 24 years old, which could come from being raised by her grandmother and/or being on her own. One thing is certain, she and Dolly are a great pair. Oliver, Lord Bolingbrooke’s son, makes an interesting co-sleuth and possibly more in future books? Ms. Conroy portrays the islanders vs. the main landers mentality realistically and shows how it effects the characters’ moods and actions.

I am looking forward to more Cornisea adventures with Guinevere and Dolly.

**Please visit all of the Death Plays A Part Blog Tour stops and check out all of the great blogs/reviews for this new book!

Book Review: Searching for Gatsby (A Ronnie Lake Mystery #3) by Niki Danforth

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

It has been a while since I have read a first person classically written private detective novel and this was a great one to remind me of my love of this genre!

SEARCHING FOR GATSBY: A Ronnie Lake Murder Mystery by Niki Danforth is the third book in this series. It can be read as a standalone, but I will definitely be going back for more character backstory and new mysteries in the first two books.

This is a new to me P.I. that I should have already been following. I love that Veronica “Ronnie” Lake is a mature character who is starting a second career as a P.I., has grown children, a second degree black belt in Aikido, a bright red mustang convertible and a retired German shepherd war dog. She is still learning the trade of being a P.I. under Will Benson, a former cop turned private eye.

At a dinner party held by Ronnie’s friends Win and Marilyn Watson, she meets an intriguing newcomer to the community, Jamie Gordan. The flirtation is interrupted by a loud gunshot and the body of a thief falling from the roof outside of Win’s library of rare books. The thief has a valuable diamond necklace in his pocket, when he could have much more easily and for more of a reward stolen Win’s rare edition of “The Great Gatsby”.

This starts a mystery that has many well place red herrings and twists between the main plot and two secondary plots. Ronnie has many mysteries pulling her in different directions. She would like to know who killed the thief, but the police, especially Detective Sofia Rossi, are anything but accommodating. She needs to find who took Win’s copy of Gatsby. She is suspicious of Katya Alessandro who owns Alessandro Rare Books in regards to her connection to Win and Jamie. Also, all of the players are connected by four WWII soldiers who happen to have left a treasure map for their descendants to solve.

The cast of characters could walk off the page, they are so realistically portrayed. I love the fact that Ronnie has a dog and when you learn of his backstory it will break your heart. Then throw in a fun and feisty terrier named Peachie and I just could not put this mystery down.

I will definitely be going back to read the first two books in this series. I love Ronnie!

Book Review: Dead Souls by Angela Marsons

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Most times you read a series because you love the characters and the author gives you interesting, intriguing and/or entertaining plots that keep the characters fresh and growing. Sometimes there may be a book that doesn’t move you as much as the others, but you continue to read the series because the characters are like family.

Occasionally you get a book in a series that is a so well done that you know it will live on in your memory because it makes you question basic humanity. No matter the first or the tenth book in the series, you will recommend it to everyone, whether they have read the whole series or not. DEAD SOULS (Detective Kim Stone #6) by Angela Marsons is that book!

During a routine archaeological dig, human bones are unearthed. As Dr. A evaluates the grave site, both Kim and Tom Travis show up to the scene and once again battle over control of the investigation. Ms. Marsons shakes up this book in the series by separating Kim from her regular team. She has been ordered to work alongside Tom, who she has had a troubled past with.

Bryant, Dawson and Stacy are left to work on a series of brutal attacks and work out their own interpersonal relationships without Kim as a boss and referee. The investigations all start to tie together into one connected hate crime conspiracy. When one of the team does some investigating on their own, it leads to dire consequences that start the clock ticking on solving both cases and saving one of their own.

This addition to the series is definitely my favorite to date even with the uncomfortable look into prejudice and hate crimes. Ms. Marsons handled the subject perfectly.  It is especially poignant considering the current climate in society today. In addition to the author bringing together two mysteries separated by over twenty years, this story is rich on character development and backstory. It also could not have had a better title that covers people both literally and figuratively. I give this author and series, especially this book, my highest recommendation!

Thank you very much to Bookouture and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. It was definitely my pleasure!

Book Review: The Thing Speaks For Itself by A.S.A. Durphy

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

THE THING SPEAKS FOR ITSELF by A.S.A. Durphy is a unique thriller, gritty detective mystery and a psychological journey all rolled into one page-turning unstoppable read. Serious, violent and comedic all intertwined with characters that stick with you.

Gracie Stratis has moved on from the mayor’s office to training for the Diplomatic Security Service to fulfill her need to travel the world. When her current diplomatic security detail gets attacked, Gracie is seriously wounded and almost dies. She returns to her home in Oakland for months of rehab and recovery. Gracie believes in just pushing through and while this may help with her physical recovery, it leads to some interesting moments in her mental recovery.

Gracie’s family consists of her younger brother and three of his friends. They all grew up together and are all happy that even under the terrible circumstances that Gracie is home. When one of their group goes missing, Gracie is determined to find him.

As Gracie digs deeper into the disappearance, she discovers deception from those she trusted. She is pitted against a corrupt corporation, bribery of government officials and a security team willing to do anything for money. All she has is her skills, with a recovering and still untrustworthy mind and body, a private detective hired by the missing friend’s parents and her ragtag group of a family.

I love a strong female lead. Gracie just doesn’t investigate, she throws in a figurative grenade to see what happens and moves forward from there, no matter the devastation to herself. All of the characters are fully fleshed out and make the story come alive. This story is written in a fast paced format that has each family member narrating at different times throughout the story. This style is a little different, but the story and action pull you in and make the narration changes interesting rather than annoying. I am definitely looking forward to reading more about Gracie and her future adventures.

Book Review: Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

(I reviewed this book last year. I am adding this previously posted review since I am currently reading Mr. Donlea’s second mystery novel The Girl Who Was Taken. I wanted both reviews on my website.)

SUMMIT LAKE by Charlie Donlea is a debut mystery that keeps you turning the pages.

The setting is a small town in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. The story is told by two narrators; Kelsey Castle, a true crime journalist, in the present investigating the savage murder and rape of Becca Eckersley and with Becca, a first year law student, telling her own story before her death threaded in between. Both women have secrets that become revealed in bits and pieces throughout the story in tantalizing increments and there are plenty of twists and turns that surprise.

I found all of the characters to be interesting and well fleshed out. The pace of the story is fast and has several twists and surprises. I did have a small problem with the lack of law enforcement involvement and the way Kelsey obtained some of her information just would not realistically happen. The reveal of the killer was truly unexpected and made for a big surprise. Well worth the read and I will be looking for more from this author.