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: 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: Stark Shadows by C.D. Bradley

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

O-M-G!!!

STARK SHADOWS by C.D. Bradley is the second book in the Stark Trilogy and a great addition well worth the wait, but this book’s ending was even harder to take than the last one! Everyone who is familiar with my reviews, knows I hate cliffhangers, but there have been a few trilogies that I am willing to forgo that dislike because either the story and/or characters are so amazing as to be worth the wait. This is one of those trilogies!

The start of book two has Kira being attacked in her home with flashbacks to her previous college attack. It is a well written and intense scene that still has you wondering if it is real or an alcohol induced dream. When she wakes up in the hospital, Holt is once again trying to help her, or is he? Kira has Paige stay with her until she is to be deployed in two weeks and Paige is kidnapped.

Owen Stark is back from deployment and looking to make things right with Kira, who he realizes is the only woman for him, but with Paige’s kidnapping and Kira’s attack nothing is going as planned again. Nothing between Kira and Owen is settled as Kira wants to focus on her military career and Owen vows to get Paige back and find out who is attacking Kira and why.

Although Kira and Owen are apart more than they are together in this book, the split into two separate paths never lets up in an intense, emotional, intriguing read. I got to read more about Owen’s true character, his willingness to do anything for those he loves and that no matter how dark things become there is a line of integrity he is not willing to cross. I was interested in all of Kira’s storyline revolving around her deployment to Peru and the history and study of the Zika virus.

And then BANG!

Book boyfriend that makes the pages sizzle! Strong, realistic characterization. Smart, intelligent plot. I love these books and am lucky that I have the third one available to read now, because if I had to wait I would go crazy.

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

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.