Abandoned. That’s how nine-year-old Jasper Leary felt when his mother, Althea, woke him up early one morning and took him to his Uncle Leo’s farm … then left him there. As she pulled away, we’re told, “Jasper didn’t know what he’d done, but it must have been something awful. She wouldn’t even look at him. A sob swelled up, choking the air out of his throat until he couldn’t breathe.” She said she’d be back soon but soon didn’t come. Jasper had to learn the hard and sometimes gory work associated with his uncle’s farm. His cousin Wayne, a couple of years older, seemed to be well-adjusted to the hard life.
Then, there are the secrets associated with the farm – the adjacent house that was not only in disrepair but had apparently been caught in a fire. Wayne caught him snooping around inside and told him if ‘Pop’ ever caught him in there, he’d “skin ya for sure.” What Wayne didn’t know is that Jasper had found something – a diary his mom had written when she was younger. When Jasper had enough of the farm, and it didn’t take long, he determined he’d find what happened to his mom.
This is as much a story of Jasper’s coming of age as it is of Althea’s past. I loved the subheadings before each chapter. They are significant and a teaser of things to come. Animal lovers will have a difficult time reading certain passages of this story and I dare say, the images will stay with them a long time. This is a historical fiction of the early 1950’s giving us a credible picture of simpler times on the one hand, yet danger and corruption on the other. It carries us from the farmland or heartland of Michigan to the streets of Detroit. It is truly suspenseful; the author told it with a dark ‘take the gloves off’ approach. The innocence of Jasper’s character was portrayed exceptionally well. Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
What an embarrassment. The Branson Beauty had been sailing Table Rock Lake near the Ozark Mountains for more than thirty years. Now it has run aground with over 100 passengers aboard and Sheriff Hank Worth needs to work through the logistics to get everyone, mostly seniors, off the boat safely. When Hank is first going through the scene, he’s walking with ‘The Company Man’, who says, “Um, Sheriff? We, uh, were hoping to keep this quiet.” Hank hits him with the truth. “Unless you think that the two of us alone are somehow going to either unstick that boat or swim all those people to shore, I don’t think this is going to stay quiet.” But as it turned out, running aground wasn’t the worse part of this scene. It was the dead girl, later identified as Mandy Bryson, who the sheriff found in the dining area.
Mandy was a high school track star. Earlier that evening, she’d been distressed at seeing her boyfriend, Ryan, with a new girl. Sheriff Worth was relatively new, having left his job as a police officer in Kansas City. Now he has a murder to solve and there are many suspects to go through.
I’m so glad to have gotten in on the ground floor of this new mystery series. The story was rich with fascinating characters and the dry humor that I love so much. While character elements are especially important to me as a reader, Claire Booth didn’t stop with only giving us rich characters, she also gave us a well-structured plot and a fast-moving pace. Oh, and did I mention, it is her debut novel. My only complaint, quite honestly, is I want the next book in the series … now! Rating: 5 out of 5.
When a violent death disrupts the monthly meeting of the Pua Kala Garden society, Professor Molly Barda has no intention of playing amateur detective. But Molly’s not just a witness-the victim is Molly’s house guest and grad-school frenemy. And Molly quickly finds to her dismay that her interest in the murder of the stylish and self-centered Melanie Polewski is more than just…academic.
The second book in the Josie Oliver mystery series proves to be a very challenging case for Jo who is also the Chief of Police in the town of Haversport, IL. For one thing, she’s being framed for the murder of her estranged and abusive husband and his girlfriend. For another, Josie is a Christian, and as such, is challenged to place herself by faith more solidly in the hands of God. Those two deaths are just the beginning for the real serial killer and each death is designed to make Josie look more like the primary suspect.
There are several twists in this fast-paced thriller serving to keep the reader guessing. Josie (Jo) is a very believable heroine who is compassionate. Even though she’s represented as strong, she has weaknesses as we all do. The cast of secondary characters’ personalities were also depicted well and I believe this series will show them growing closer together like a close-knit family. The ending is dramatic, but with hangers … which is not my favorite style of ending. This does have some romance as she reconnects with former boyfriend, Nick Vitallero, an FBI Special Agent. She’s not entirely sure she can trust him as her ex had put her through the ringer. The entire story is a clean read as Dr. Finger is a Christian author. Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
This had me at the first paragraph … a very short one that read: “On our wedding day, my fiancé, James arrived at the church in a casket.”
After the service for James Donato, but before the burial and the reception, Aimee Tierney was approached by a young woman who introduced herself as Lacy. She shocked Aimee with a zinger, telling her, “James is alive.” Lacy placed her card in Aimee’s hand before hurrying away. When Aimee got a chance, she looked at the card that identified the woman as “Lacy Saunders; Psychic Counselor … Murders, Missing Persons & Unsolved Mysteries.”
This debut novel by Kerry Lonsdale is so well-paced and well-plotted; you’ll have a hard time believing it is a debut. It had startling twists within the mystery aspect of the novel. It’s not like Aimee didn’t know James. She met him when she was eight. Later, they were high school sweethearts. Through flashbacks, the story goes back to the years as they got to know each other. I did have an issue with the funeral being held on the same day they would have been married, but it was not an issue related to the author’s storytelling, it was just appalling that poor Aimee allowed herself to be talked into it just because they already had the church reserved. How devastating for her. This is an emotional read. Before James’ boating accident, they had their lives planned out, but now she’s completely lost. The ending was absolutely satisfying, yet there was an opening. I can’t wait to see if there is a sequel to Everything We Keep. Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
The title, The Missing, is very appropriate for this novel due to the lack of interest by authorities of missing and murdered young Aboriginal women in the Winnipeg, Manitoba area. While the situation is real, the story itself is fictional and written for a Teen and YA audience. Feather Bedard is one of the luckier ones. She has a loving mom and dad and a brother, Kiowa. From Cree High School, Carli had gone missing first, and eventually, her body was found in the Red River. The authorities simply wrote it off as suicide. More recently, Feather’s best friend, Mia, has gone missing. Both of the girls were in a bad family situation and both were listed as frequent runaways. But, more accurately, they would occasionally spend a night at the Rec Center when things got bad at home.
Feather doesn’t feel the police are doing enough to find Mia. Then, when they arrest her brother for suspicion in Mia’s disappearance, she begins to actively seek answers herself. Feather is in for a rude awakening by the time she figures out that their abductor has his eye on her as well.
This novel was well-written but not without a few flaws. Politicizing the issue is strong – the authorities are not doing enough to take these abductions seriously. There is a clear shift in the story from her search for details into Mia’s disappearance and her attempt to clear Kiowa of the incident. This is Feather’s first person narration. Occasionally, we get a glimpse of the thoughts of the killer, and they are truly creepy. I do really like Feather’s character as she is featured as strong in the face of danger. For some teens, the content may be a bit too troubling. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Quinn Perkins is an exchange student staying with the Blavettes in St. Roch, France. When the story opens, she’s trying very hard to piece together what happened to her, but she can’t quite form complete memories. She really only knows she was trying desperately to get away from something terrible. She had stumbled out of the woods and into the path of a car. The driver took off, but a tourist had caught the incident on video as they were filming the beautiful scenery. Their video goes viral – #AmericanGirl. We soon find that the Blavette family is also missing and Quinn becomes a prime suspect in their sudden disappearance.
Molly Swift is a Boston journalist. After a brief conversation with her boss, she takes off to St. Roch to try to get a scoop on this story. She strikes it lucky when the nuns within the hospital believe she is related to Quinn. There is something about seventeen-year-old Quinn that makes Molly want to get closer to her … more than just a story. The police have no leads. So, as Molly helps Quinn try to remember details, they both find themselves wading deeper into danger.
I found the beginning a bit murky before realizing the reader is plunged into the confused kaleidoscopic images of a girl coming out of a coma and trying to remember what happened to her. I also found it to be a bit odd and obviously dangerous that Quinn would reach out to her blog readers as she tried to remember the incident. The story is told from the perspective of both Quinn and Molly. That approach worked well with this twisting psychological thriller. The author did well to make us keep guessing as she offers up one surprise after another. The characters, which were not necessarily likable, were very realistic and believable. Rating: 3 out of 5.
Leathan Wilkey has been hired to babysit Clementina, a seventeen-year-old whose rich daddy is going through a messy divorce and is over-compensating.
Leathan soon tires of her spending habits, her selfie obsession, and her social media preoccupation as his ward drags him from shop to boutique to jeweler, approaching each with the self-possession that comes from a lifetime of getting her own way and never once having to worry about money.
But when Clementina snaps her fingers and her boyfriend doesn’t come running, something is up. He doesn’t appear because he’s been murdered.
When Leathan investigates, he finds that the boyfriend has no background and met Clementina through a connection made by daddy’s business partner.
Daddy’s business partner who has been slowly and progressively putting daddy in a vice, grabbing more of the business, and who is now menacing Clementina directly to manipulate daddy.
When is the last time you heard of the police requesting a general citizen to take pictures of two dead bodies? It happened to Ellie Stone, a reporter, who was enjoying time with her eccentric Aunt Lena on the shore of the Adirondack Lake. Not only did Chief of Police Ralph (Tiny) Terwilliger ask her to take the pictures, he was also just a bit inebriated. When Terwilliger takes her up to the cliff from which they fell, she discovers a station wagon parked nearby. It happens to belong to her cousin Max. What’s even stranger is that one of the decedent’s clothes is folded neatly on the front seat of the car. Where is Max anyway? Could he somehow be responsible? The two dead men were identified as Jerry Kaufman, a teen attending music camp, and Charles Morton, Hollywood producer.
The premise of this novel intrigued me, but it was only a short way in before it became too unbelievable. Police don’t ask citizens to take pictures of dead bodies under investigation, right? And, if you’re the picture taker, you certainly wouldn’t be able to get close enough to touch the bodies – most people wouldn’t even want to. This is a bit of a historical fiction taking place in 1961. Ellie makes an interesting sleuth, and the last quarter is more fast-paced and overall satisfying. Rating: 3 out of 5.
New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub returns to Mundy’s Landing—a small town where bygone bloodshed has become big business.
Hair neatly braided, hands serenely clasped, eyes closed, the young woman appeared to be sound asleep. But the peaceful tableau was a madman’s handiwork. Beneath the covers, her white nightgown was spattered with blood. At daybreak, a horrified family would discover her corpse tucked into their guest room. The cunning killer would strike again . . . and again . . . before vanishing into the mists of time.
A century ago, the Sleeping Beauty Murders terrified picturesque Mundy’s Landing. The victims, like the killer, were never identified. Now, on the hundredth anniversary, the Historical Society’s annual “Mundypalooza” offers a hefty reward for solving the notorious case.
Annabelle Bingham, living in one of the three Murder Houses, can’t escape the feeling that her family is being watched—and not just by news crews and amateur sleuths. She’s right. Having unearthed the startling truth behind the horrific crimes, a copycat killer is about to reenact them—beneath the mansard roof of Annabelle’s dream home…