Book Review: The Librarian and the Spy by Susan Mann

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have just read an absolutely charming and entertaining start to a new series called The Librarian and the Spy (Librarian and the Spy Escapade #1) by Susan Mann. Not only did I love all of the characters, I learned many things I never knew about reference librarians and their jobs. This book had me laughing out loud and turning the pages as fast as possible as the mystery and suspense took off.

Quinn Ellington is a reference librarian who loves her job solving questions for her library patrons, but she also longs to travel and experience adventures like her favorite spy thriller heroes introduced to her by her grandfather. She hates all the stereotypes of librarians because she grew up as a military brat with a Marine father who taught her to shot and three older brothers that she has always completed with.

On an ordinary day at work, insurance agent James Lockwood comes up to the desk and asks Quinn for her help researching some pieces from a private collection. Quinn can’t believe her luck because not only is James gorgeous, but he has a British accent to die for. As Quinn becomes more involved in helping James, she realizes that all this research is not simply for insurance purposes and James has not been completely truthful with her. He is not British and he is not an insurance agent.

As Quinn and James work together to solve an important puzzle to stop an international arms dealer from acquiring nuclear material, Quinn’s intelligence and abilities become a major asset. She is very capable of thinking on her feet and James becomes even more impressed.

Their cover and flirting as a married couple leads to real feelings that they try to control until the end of their mission. This story has a lot of witty banter, flirting and a steady buildup of their chemistry to a relationship. No sex until the end and it is behind closed doors when it does happen. Even when the plot has been resolved, there is a great twist at the end of the book.

I really enjoyed this book and I was very happy to see that it is a proposed series and not a standalone. I was impressed by the fact that this is Ms. Mann’s first book. A fast paced plot, interesting facts, and entertaining characters make this worth the read. I am looking forward to James and Quinn’s next outing!

Thanks very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I am looking forward to many more books in this series.

Book Review: Last Breath by Robert Brynzda

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Robert Brynzda and his amazing character, DCI Erika Foster, have given me a gripping and thrilling, British police procedural read once again! This fourth book is even stronger than the first and just as additive.

LAST BREATH (Detective Erika Foster, #4) starts off with a beautiful young girl found dead in a dumpster in London. Erika is with Peterson when he gets the call and decides to ride along to the scene. She wants in on the case, but her nemesis Stark is now Superintendent of the Murder Investigative Team and sends her on her way.

Erika is on desk duty, which she hates, but she just cannot keep her mouth silent when dealing with superiors. As she languishes, she applies to return to the Murder Investigative Team, but it does not look good until there is a medical emergency and she gets her chance to once again lead her previous team of detectives. With all of her experience, Erika connects this case to a previous unsolved case. As a third girl is reported missing, it becomes apparent that the team is chasing a serial killer who seems to disappear leaving no clues.

The killer is unveiled early on in this book by Mr. Brynzda. We get to look into his mind and life as Erika and her team try to stop him. It adds nail-biting tension as we watch him kidnap another victim and he begins to devolve with Erika and her team on his trail.

Erika is so complex, hard on the outside, but vulnerable. Her character has had to deal with loss, guilt, and moving forward emotionally while dealing with her ups and downs on the police force. The secondary characters all have unique personalities that add depth to each book. The fast paced plot keeps you reading and turning the pages. This is a series that I feel needs to be read in order and since it is on book #4, you better get busy!

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

Book Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

A present day family tragedy, a twenty-year-old unsolved death and an environment that can go up in flames with one spark all ramp up the tension, anger, suspicion, danger and suspense in Jane Harper’s debut novel THE DRY.

Twenty years ago Aaron Falk and his father were run out of their home and off their farm in Kiewarra, a small farming community in Australia. Ellie Deacon was found drowned and even though it was ruled a suicide, Aaron was rumored to be involved in her death. His best friend Luke Hadler gave him an alibi, but his name was found on a note in the dead girl’s room. Aaron never wants to return to the community.

A call from Luke’s father brings Aaron, who is now a Federal Police investigator in Melbourne, back to Kiewarra for the funeral of Luke, his wife and small son. Everyone believes the pressures of the drought made Luke snap and kill his family before killing himself, but Luke’s parents just can’t believe it and ask Aaron to look into it for them. The local policeman, Sergeant Raco is new to the area and he is having some doubts with the ruling of murder-suicide himself. Aaron and Raco start to look more closely at the case and start to uncover buried secrets and lies.

Many in the community still believe Aaron lied about is alibi and the same forces that chased him before are back to pressure him into leaving again. He is harassed constantly again, which leaves him looking at the same foes as before and it could be clouding his judgement and perspective on the current case. Are the two, past and present cases connected or is it just coincidence? Aaron and Raco work together to find the truth before the town ignites.

This book was so well written, I find it extremely hard to believe it is a debut book. Ms. Harper gives the reader not one, but two intriguing mysteries that intertwine throughout the book with well-placed flashbacks that never interrupt the story’s narrative. All of the characters are complex and fully fleshed. The pressures of a farming community on the edge due to an extended drought makes the environment as important as any character. This book is a must read for lovers of mystery/suspense books!

Book Review: The Girl In the Maze by R.K. Jackson

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

THE GIRL IN THE MAZE is the debut book by R.K. Jackson featuring Martha Covington. This book was an enjoyable mix of thriller and mystery with a little psychic/seer thrown in on a Georgia coast island.

The island and its inhabitants are descendants of plantation slaves who are self-sustaining and still follow their old religion and belief system. Martha is out of inhouse treatment for schizophrenia suffered during college and is working an internship for the historical society to interview and write a book on the GeeChee people of Shell Heap Island as a test to see if she can maintain a normal life and return to college for journalism.

There is a battle between the town council and the GeeChee for control of development on their island which leads to dirty money, corruption and murder. Martha is caught in the middle and doesn’t know if her disease is taking over again or if voices and visions she begins to hear and see are due to being more, like Lady Albertha, an old seer in the GeeChee community.

Martha is a wonderful character. She is brilliant, driven, and at the same time doubts herself due to her illness. The plot flows with many rich characters and twists. The writing is very descriptive and you feel immersed in the small Georgia town, the island and traveling in the marshes. I am looking forward to reading more about Martha and where the author takes her.

Book Review: Trust No One by Paul Cleave

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

TRUST NO ONE by Paul Cleave is an edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller that has the reader and the crime writer narrator continually trying to decide what is reality and what is fiction.
Jerry Grey is a fictional crime writer who uses the pseudonym of Henry Cutter for his novels and has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s at the age of 49. He begins to keep a “Madness Journal” to follow his progression into Alzheimer’s, but he still is not sure if he can trust what seems real or what are remembered parts of his works of fiction caused by his disease. He confesses to crimes he has written about in his published novels to the police. At first, no one believes his confessions that they perceive to be caused by the dementia progressing in his mind, but dead bodies are turning up and the evidence is mounting against him.

Paul Cleave has written a thriller that makes you question everything you read and question all the characters’ motives. You cannot make any conclusions due to the unreliability of the protagonist as storyteller and yet the plot progresses forward at a faster and faster pace. Every scene and character are important. If you love this book as much as I did, wait until you read the ending. I believe it is perfect for the story, but your emotions are going to be all over the place and it can be debated endlessly. Fantastic book!

Book Review: Serenity Stalked by Craig A. Hart

serenity stalked

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Another fast paced thriller featuring Shelby Alexander from Craig A. Hart. Yes, please!

SERENITY STALKED (The Shelby Alexander Thriller Series Book 2) has everything you want in an action packed, short, intense and tightly plotted thriller. In this second book, a serial killer has made his way to small town Serenity to make an anonymous kill and move on, until he sees Carly.

Shelby’s girlfriend, Carly asks him to deliver a message to an ex-boyfriend to quit texting her. The message is delivered, but then the ex-boyfriend, his wife and baby are all found murdered the next day. Shelby is seen leaving the home and an anonymous caller tells Sheriff Wilkes he can find the knife that killed them in Shelby’s storage shed. Since no love is lost between these two, Wilkes is ready to lock Shelby up.

True crime writer, Quinn Edwards warns Shelby of his impending arrest and tells him to get lost and she will help with the case. Believe her or not, Shelby goes, but Carly won’t leave with him and this is just what the killer is waiting for.

This is a quick read that you will want to finish in one sitting. As with Mr. Hart’s first Shelby book, all of the characters are fully fleshed. Shelby is a great lead character with wisdom, strength he has realized is changing with his age and his own moral code. I am looking forward to many more adventures featuring Shelby.