Book Review: Summit Lake by Charles 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: Girl In Disguise by Greer Macallister

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

GIRL IN DISGUISE by Greer Macallister is a historical fiction book based on the life of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton agent. I always love to read about the “first” females in any role and this being the first detective agency in the U.S. made it sound even more interesting. Kate’s story is perfectly suited to be told in as a historical fiction due to the fact that a lot of the actual paperwork from her time in the Pinkerton agency went up in flames the Chicago Fire of 1871.

Kate was the daughter of traveling actors, who were also con-artists. She was forced into a loveless marriage that ended with her becoming a young widow and unable to have children. She is out of money with no job prospects and answers the ad for Pinkerton agents. There is always a sadness and aloneness about her, but her life has given her the basic skills to become a great detective. Pinkerton takes her on and not only does she become one of Pinkerton’s top agents, she also heads up the Female Detective division for him.

The author has written the adventures of a complicated woman, her relationship with Pinkerton himself and her interactions with the other agents in his employ. I felt the characters were all true to their time period and the situations could have happened just as written. This is a story that was very well told.

Thanks very much to Sourcebooks Landmark and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Girl At the Bar by Nicholas Nash

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I absolutely love when I try a new author with no expectations and am completely absorbed into the story. THE GIRL AT THE BAR by Nicolas Nash is one of those mystery/thrillers that are rich in backgrounds, technical information and clues without bogging down the pace and keeps you guessing until the end.

Dr. Rebecca Chase is a brilliant cancer researcher in New York City for a medical conference. The night before she is to present, she meets Ragnar Johnson at her hotel bar. She leaves to go to his place for a one night stand. When Ragnar wakes up the next morning, she is gone, not just from his apartment, but she has completely disappeared.

No one knows why she would disappear. Her research has placed her in the middle of a high-stakes battle between two mega pharma companies. Her personal life is a mess, but she is not the type of person to just walk away from her life’s work and career. After her disappearance, others associated with her start to be killed and there are so many different motives and agendas, you don’t know who to trust.

Ragnar is a brilliant out of work trader with social and psychiatric problems. Even though he knows he looks to be the prime suspect in Rebecca’s disappearance, he can’t stay uninvolved. He and his tech expert/hacker friend, Eddie chase clues. As he works the case, he is being followed by Raoul Perez who heads up security for Atticus Biopharma and was a NYC detective previously. You also have a competent team of detectives, Timothy and Roberta, who we follow as they work the case.

During the story, you are introduced to an entity that just calls itself “the void”. It is never completely satisfied or filled for long. You realize this is the mind of the kidnapper/killer and the way it describes itself is extremely chilling.

There are so many characters that have a variety of motives that I was continually changing my mind on who was the guilty party and why. Even with all the moving parts, I was never confused on who was who. All of the characters were so interesting and realistic that I just had to keep turning the pages. I love this type of mystery as it takes you step by step and lets you think and discover along with the detectives and Ragnar. Please note: There is a moment of graphic violence in the climax of the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel and will be looking for more from this author.

Thanks very much to Fireflies Publishing LLC and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. It was my pleasure.

 

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: Fire and Midnight by Sandra Renee Appet

fire and midnight

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

WOW! My new book boyfriend’s name is Ryan “Reyo” Zeigler. Half Mexican, half German, beautiful, sexy, smart and loving. This story has everything I want in a romance!

FIRE AND MIDNIGHT by Sandra Renee Appet is a beautifully written contemporary romance about a divorcee who is all work now that she has an empty nest and she believes her time for love has passed her by and a gorgeous ex-escort who was very successful, but only did the job for the money to realize his dream of his own restaurant.

Janes Keegan’s divorce is final and her son is off to college. When she has to take a trip to San Antonio from NY for business, her BFF informs her she set her up with an account on “The Cowboys”, an exclusive, high-end escort service. She is not comfortable with this idea and is about to delete her account when she views a blue-eyed, dark haired arresting man and she presses “Book”.

Ryan “Reyo” Ziegler’s dream has always been to open his own restaurant on the San Antonio River Walk. He has stripped and then been an escort, always working towards his dream and now that Vine is open and doing well he is done with that empty life. He told his old boss he was done, but she left his profile up and she now asks him to do this one last job. He is intrigued by Jane’s picture and bio and agrees to this last escort.

When Jane and Ryan meet in person, there is an instant attraction, but also the feeling of being comfortable with each other. Ryan doesn’t want Jane to think he is only interested in the money and makes a deal with her – no strings, a fun relaxing weekend and her payment refunded. When their weekend is up, Ryan wants to continue to see where their relationship will go. Jane has to decide if she truly believes Ryan wants her or if this is just a beautiful dream that has to end.

This romance had my emotions all over the place. Ryan is a hot, sexy hero, who is everything a woman could want and Jane has all the insecurities and strengths of a middle aged divorcee trying to put herself first for a change. Ms. Appet brings this H/h to life with realistic situations, extended family and friends, and a love that survives and strengthens with every trial. This is a beautiful romance!

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Murder By The Book by Devorah Fox

murder by the book

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I really enjoyed MURDER BY THE BOOK by Devorah Fox which is a mini-cozy mystery that is packed into 27 pages. I KNOW!!! I was very surprised that such a short story had almost everything I look for in a much longer book.

Candy Wadsen comes into work at the Sugarloaf Inn and Resort to find her loathsome boss murdered at his desk. Candy is a mystery book buff and knows what to do, but reality is very different from books. She is quickly cleared with her alibi by the hunky Sergeant Dan Petrowski, but the rest of the staff had to stay for an after work meeting and all become suspects.

This is a wonderfully clever who-done-it that had me guessing until the end. All of the characters were your usual cast of quirky cozy mystery types and they were well written for the short length of the story. When you want a very quick and smart mini-cozy mystery, grab this one and you will not be disappointed!