Category: Mystery

“Robert Parker’s Grudge Match” by Mike Lupica

“Robert Parker’s Grudge Match” by Mike Lupica

Sunny Randall Book 8

When Sunny’s long-time gangster associate Tony Marcus comes to her for help, Sunny is surprised–after all, she double crossed him on a recent deal, and their relationship is on shakier ground than ever. But the way Tony figures it, Sunny owes him, and Sunny’s willing to consider his case if it will clear the slate.

Tony’s trusted girlfriend and business partner has vanished, appears to have left in a hurry, and he has no idea why. He just wants to talk to her, he says, but first he needs Sunny to track her down. While Sunny isn’t willing to trust his good intentions, the missing woman intrigues her–against all odds, she’s risen to a position of power in Tony’s criminal enterprise. Sunny can’t help but admire her, and if this woman’s in a jam, Sunny would like to help.

But when a witness is murdered hours after speaking to Sunny, it’s clear there’s more at stake than just Tony’s love life. Someone–maybe even Tony himself–doesn’t want this woman on the loose…and will go to any lengths to make sure she stays silent.

Sunny Randall is up in my Top 10 of female detectives so I was very pleased to be granted a review copy of this latest release. This actually turned out to be a quick read from me because I just couldn’t put it down. Sunny’s got a bad history with Tony Marcus but now he needs her help and is willing to let bygones be bygones, or so he says. While Sunny is looking for his missing girlfriend, the competition is trying to move in on Tony and is not afraid of using Sunny as a part of their takeover attempt. Then she is suddenly confronted with the re-appearance of her ex-husband’s son in their lives.

There are a lot of moving parts in this story but the author expertly wove them together into a story that keeps you guessing. Sunny is brash and ballsy on the job, but finds herself getting more and more wrapped up with the little boy. I love that these stories are set in Boston, a city I have visited but don’t really have a good knowledge of. A lot of the enjoyment for me in reading is getting to visit places I don’t know much about. Sunny is a character that has developed over the course of the series into a tough and loyal detective, with a enough of a feminine side to be relatable for us ordinary folk. As for the mob guys, well, I like the uniqueness of their characters but as people I wouldn’t want to get anywhere near them. That Sunny can hold her own in their presence amazes me.

I am recommending this book because I really enjoy the writing and pacing of the story, I love the character of Sunny, and the location is on that intrigues me. If you haven’t discovered Sunny Randall yet that you need to, plain and simple.

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“In Her Shadow” by Kristin Miller

“In Her Shadow” by Kristin Miller

When secretary Colleen Roper becomes pregnant by her boss, Michael, he whisks her away to Ravenwood, his opulent estate. Abruptly thrust into a life of luxury she’s never known, Colleen finds the immense house suffused with the memory of Michael’s wife, Joanna, who left months ago and haunts her imagination. With rooms she’s prohibited from entering and a staff that greets her with hostility, there is little room for a new mistress of Ravenwood.

It’s not long before bones are unearthed in the grove across the street and Michael falls under the suspicion of detectives. The soon-to-be mother of his child finds herself hurled deeper into her lover’s dark past, a past filled with unfaithfulness and deception. Making a claim to her new life is harder than it seems—especially since she’s walking in the shadow of the hauntingly beautiful Joanna. As Colleen untangles truth from lies, she discovers that nothing is what it seems, and that some people will kill to keep their secrets as quiet as the dead.

This mystery is inspired by “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier and the first chapter feels very reminiscent of “Rebecca”. But the story’s originality quickly becomes apparent after the first chapter. I was drawn in by the characters immediately. Colleen is a lovely young lady who appears very naive. While Michael comes across as very much taking advantage of Colleen. Don’t be deceived though, these characters are much more complex than they at first appear. Motives shift from one person to another and you will have to get to the end in order to fully understand what has been happening throughout.

This book is loaded with murder, deception, ulterior motives and betrayal, all wrapped up in a mysterious modern setting. I enjoyed this story much more than I expected to and highly recommend it.

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“Strike Me Down” by Mindy Mejia

“Strike Me Down” by Mindy Mejia

Nora Trier catches thieves. As a forensic accountant and partner in her downtown Minneapolis firm, she’s unearthed millions in every corner of the world. She prides herself on her independence, the most essential currency of accounting, until her firm is hired by Strike.

An anti-corporate, feminist athletic empire, Strike is owned by Logan Russo, a brash and legendary kickboxer, and her marketing genius husband, Gregg Abbott. They’re about to host a major kickboxing tournament with twenty million dollars in prize money, and the chance for the champion to become the new face of the company. Gregg suspects his wife already has a new face in mind—a young trainer named Aaden, for whom Logan feels an unexpected connection.

Days before the tournament begins, it’s discovered that the prize money is missing. Gregg hires Nora’s firm to find both the thief and the money but Nora has a secret connection to Strike that threatens her independence. Her partner pressures her into taking the case anyway, hinting he has information about Strike that could change the course of the investigation in a shocking and deadly way.

“Strike Me Down” had me excited and a little nervous from the beginning. The lead character Nora is a CPA, like me, and this immediately drew my attention. Let’s face it, the accounting profession doesn’t get my time in fiction. The martial arts aspect of the story had me a little nervous though because I’m not a particular fan. I was very curious to see how this story was going to develop, but Mindy Mejia hadn’t let me down before so I quickly dove in. This turned out to be a great story. The criminal is not immediately obvious and my suspicions changed several times before I was able to narrow down my suspect pool. Once again, the character’s in this book are complicated, with motives that are sometimes obvious and other times completely unexpected. I liked the way that each of the players in this story had a different background that influenced their behavior.

This story takes place in Minneapolis, mostly in the downtown area and I really like the way that the overhead covered walkways became such an integral part of the action. A foot chase in the winding corridors of downtown is definitely intriguing. I have come to really enjoy Mindy Mejia’s books as this is the 3rd one I’ve read now. I always find the stories to be complex, unexpected and mysterious. I appreciate the way she develops her characters and uses the landscape as a tool to enrich the story. So pick up this book, and spend a little time the Twin Cities.

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“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

“Fell Murder” by E.C.R. Lorac

First published in 1944 Fell Murder sees E.C.R. Lorac at the height of her considerable powers as a purveyor of well-made, traditional and emphatic detective fiction. The book presents a fascinating ‘return of the prodigal’ mystery set in the later stages of the Second World War amidst the close-knit farmerfolk community of Lancashire s lovely Lune valley.

The Garths had farmed their fertile acres for generations and fine land it was with the towering hills of the Lake Country on the far horizon. Garthmere Hall itself was old before Flodden Field, and here hot-tempered Robert Garth, still hale and hearty at eighty-two, ruled his household with a rod of iron. The peaceful dales and fells of the north country provide the setting for this grim story of a murder, a setting in fact which is one of the attractive features of an unusual and distinctive tale of evil passions and murderous hate in a small rural community.

I loved this mystery! This is the second classic crime that I’ve read from this author and the writing is just so rich and descriptive that I just feel like I’m there on the farm with the characters. And the Garth family is a fascinating group of personalities. This is a shorter book than the mysteries we get today but it really packs a punch and lacks not at all in twists and turns. The villain is not immediately obvious and the means of murder are vicious. This story has everything a good mystery should have and I highly recommend it. If you’ve never tried a classic crime novel E.C.R. Lorac is a great place to start.

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“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

“Give the Devil His Due” by Sulari Gentill

Rowland Sinclair Mystery Series #7

Wealthy Rowland Sinclair, an artist with leftist friends and a free-wheeling lifestyle, reluctantly agrees to a charity race. He’ll drive his beloved yellow Mercedes on the Maroubra Speedway, renamed the Killer Track for the lives it has claimed. His teammates are a young Errol Flynn and the well-known driver Joan Richmond. It’s all good fun. But then people start to die…

The body of a journalist covering the race is found murdered in a House of Horrors. An English blueblood with Blackshirt affiliations dies in a Maroubra crash. Reporters stalk Rowly for dirt while bookmakers are after an edge. When someone takes a shot at him—it could be anyone. Then the police arrest one of Rowly’s housemates for murder.

This is the second book I’ve read from this series and I have to say that the character of Rowland Sinclair and his various companions continue to grow on me. Ms. Gentill has crafted some incredible personalities for the lead characters which all work together to keep the reader engaged and at times on the edge of their seat. While this book is not a thriller it does contain some harrowing moments, this time centered around a racetrack which by its very nature is a threat to life and limb. There’s also a coven of witches coming out to play and complicate the mystery, and a quirky young lady trying get break in to the art world. Although I was never a big fan of the actor Errol Flynn, his appearance in this story helps to draw you into the time period. Overall, I found this to be a fun romp through Australia in the years between the wars and look forward to more installments in this series.

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“Kindness Goes Unpunished” by Craig Johnson

“Kindness Goes Unpunished” by Craig Johnson

Narrated by George Guidall

Book 3 in the Walt Longmire Series

The Blurb:

Walt Longmire has been Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, for almost a quarter of a century, but when he joins his good friend Henry Standing Bear on a trip to the City of Brotherly Love to see his daughter, Cady, he’s in for a shock. Walt hasn’t even put his boots up when Cady is viciously attacked and left near death on the steps of the Franklin Institute. He soon discovers that she has unwittingly become involved in a deadly political cover-up. Backed by Henry, Dog, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and the entire Moretti posse of Philadelphia police officers, Walt unpacks his saddlebag of tricks to mete out some Western-style justice.

My Thoughts:

Walt Longmire and Henry Standing Bear in Philadelphia! Talk about fishes out of water. But these two will do anything for Walt’s daughter Cady, including tracking down the bad guys who put Cady in the hospital. This particular story is my favorite so far in this series. Walt gets to meet up with Vic’s family and they are a delightful bunch and helpful too since a couple of them are on the police force. In the process of finding the guy who put Cady in the hospital, Walt is instrumental in uncovering a major crime ring. Craig Johnson’s characters continue to fascinate me with their broad range of personalities. George Guidall has once again delivered a fantastic narration. If you like your mysteries rugged than you can’t go wrong with this series.

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“Death Has Deep Roots” by Michael Gilbert

“Death Has Deep Roots” by Michael Gilbert

Blurb:

An eager London crowd awaits the trial of Victoria Lamartine, hotel worker, ex-French Resistance fighter, and the only logical suspect for the murder of her supposed lover, Major Eric Thoseby. Lamartine—who once escaped from the clutches of the Gestapo—is set to meet her end at the gallows.

One final opportunity remains: the defendant calls on solicitor Nap Rumbold to replace the defence counsel,and grants an eight-day reprieve from the proceedings. Without any time to spare, Rumbold boards a ferry across the Channel, tracing the roots of the brutal murder back into the war-torn past.

My Thoughts:

This story makes me smile every time I think about it. I was very surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. I even refused to make dinner for the family one night just so I could finish it. This is the Golden Age of Mystery’s version of John Grisham. The story is part courtroom drama and part thriller. As Macrea and Rumbold senior manage the courtroom drama, Rumbold junior is traipsing across France, evading enemies, as he works to uncover the truth about Victoria Lamartine’s history. Victoria is a damsel in distress and these lawyers will risk their lives their lives, if necessary, to see her found not guilty. The characters are wonderful, the plot has enough twists to keep the reader guessing, and the lawyers have a few Perry Mason tricks up their sleeves. Definitely a classic!

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“Death Without Company” by Craig Johnson

“Death Without Company” by Craig Johnson

Narrated by George Guidall

Blurb:

When Mari Baroja is found poisoned at the Durant Home for Assisted Living, Sheriff Longmire is drawn into an investigation that reaches fifty years into the mysterious woman’s dramatic Basque past. Aided by his friend Henry Standing Bear, Deputy Victoria Moretti, and newcomer Santiago Saizarbitoria, Sheriff Longmire must connect the specter of the past to the present to find the killer among them.

My Thoughts:

Book 2 in the Walt Longmire series and just as good as the first. In addition to Sheriff Longmire there is a cast of quirky characters to make the story happen. And you know how much I love quirky characters. The wilds of Wyoming is just the kind of place for them too. This particular installment of the series moves back and forth between the present investigation into Mari’s death and the events in the past that ultimately triggered her murder. As usual, Walt and his deputies are in it till the end and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. And let’s not forget that this is all taking place in the middle of a blizzard. And of course, this book is narrated by George Guidall, one of my favorite narrators. He just seems to become Walt and draw you in. I am definitely loving these stories from Craig Johnson and can’t wait to start on book 3.

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“Y is for Yesterday” by Sue Grafton

“Y is for Yesterday” by Sue Grafton

Narrated by Judy Kaye

Blurb:

In 1979, four teenage boys from an elite private school sexually assault a fourteen-year-old classmate—and film the attack. Not long after, the tape goes missing and the suspected thief, a fellow classmate, is murdered. In the investigation that follows, one boy turns state’s evidence and two of his peers are convicted. But the ringleader escapes without a trace.

Now, it’s 1989 and one of the perpetrators, Fritz McCabe, has been released from prison. Moody, unrepentant, and angry, he is a virtual prisoner of his ever-watchful parents—until a copy of the missing tape arrives with a ransom demand. That’s when the McCabes call Kinsey Millhone for help. As she is drawn into their family drama, she keeps a watchful eye on Fritz. But he’s not the only one being haunted by the past. A vicious sociopath with a grudge against Millhone may be leaving traces of himself for her to find…

My Thoughts:

I am a die-hard Kinsey Millhone fan and have read every book in the series but this one I listened to which felt like coming full circle. My first exposure to Kinsey was I don’t even remember how long ago. I was traveling and made a stop at my aunt and uncle’s house and my aunt said I should listen to books on tape while driving and she loaned me this great book she had called “A is for Alibi”. I don’t remember who narrated the first one but it definitely captured my imagination. This latest in the series was no less captivating than the first one. Kinsey seems to be a little bothered to have a case but needs something to do, if for no other reason than to get away from the homeless people camped out in her landlord’s yard. I have to say that Sue Grafton is really an expert at characterization and her characters always act in a way that surprises but seems to fit them completely. That being said, the facts of this case are at times graphic and brutal. The story moves back and forth between the events in 1979 and the “present day” of 1989. I was particularly impressed with the way that the author depicted how the past events, the choices the kids made as teenagers, impacted how their lives played out. These people are haunted by those events, each in different ways, but you get the sense that they will never be able to get away from them.

Finally, I want to give a shout-out to the cat in this story, who plays a key role in catching a bad guy. This book hits all the marks for me and if you haven’t yet met Kinsey, what are you waiting for?

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“Bloody Genius” by John Sandford

“Bloody Genius” by John Sandford

Pay attention mystery lovers, a new Virgil Flowers investigation has just hit the shelves. Never mind that his girlfriend is about to pop out twins and the hay needs to be harvested, the governor of Minnesota needs Virgil’s help to uncover who killed a prominent University of Minnesota professor. A leading light in his field, someone has bashed his head in with his computer and left his dead body locked in a carrel in the library undetected for two days. Virgil is perceived as an intruder into her investigation by Minneapolis detective Trane, but Virgil’s unique charm soon wins her over.

This is a twisty investigation that is constantly running into leads that go nowhere. One of my favorite things about John Sandford’s books in general is the way that he weaves his character’s personal life seamlessly into the investigations making the character a well-rounded person instead of a one-dimensional caricature. Then there is Minnesota which Sandford brings to a life in a way that just makes you want to be there and discover what all the fuss is about. Finally, I found the pairing of Flowers and Trane to be fun and delightful. They are opposites in everything but their search for the truth and it gets crazy before it’s over. You might find yourself wanting to take notes as you work your way through this story just so you can keep track of all the players, but you will definitely enjoy the process.

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