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.

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.