Category Archives: Mystery

Review-Guilty Not Guilty by Felix Francis

Guilty not guilty

Title: Guilty Not Guilty (A Dick Francis Novel, book #9)

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Author: Felix Francis

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: G.P. Putnam, Nov. 2019

Pages: 384

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: off page

Description from Amazon:

It is said that everyone over a certain age can remember distinctly what they were doing when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated, or that Princess Diana had been killed in a Paris car crash, but I, for one, could recall all too clearly where I was standing when a policeman told me that my wife had been murdered.

Bill Russell is acting as a volunteer steward at Warwick races when he confronts his worst nightmare–the violent death of his much-loved wife. But, the aftermath proves much worse when he is accused of killing her and then hounded mercilessly by the media. Losing his job and in danger of losing his home too, Bill’s life begins to unravel completely. Even his best friends turn against him, thinking him guilty of the heinous crime, despite the lack of any compelling evidence.

As Bill sets out to clear his name, he finds that proving one’s innocence isn’t easy. He believes he can track down the true culprit, but can he prove it before he becomes the murderer’s next victim? Guilty Not Guilty is a journey of greed and jealousy set against the grief of personal tragedy, with many a twist and turn along the way.

**
This is my first Felix Francis book although in the past I have enjoyed several of his late father’s books, Dick Francis. The novels of both father and son are set in the world of horse racing in England. Not so much this book although Bill Russell is a Steward for the racing authority. This is a page turner and you won’t want to sleep until you see if Bill can clear his name. Like me you will wonder how much this man can endure before giving up but he plods on never giving in or up. I did think he could have used a bit more help than good brother, Douglas. Yes, I can recommend this book highly for a fast enjoyable read.

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Recent Release Review- A Christmas Gathering by Anne Perry

A Christmas Gathering

Title: A Christmas Gathering

Genre: Holiday Mystery

Author: Anne Perry

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Ballentine, Nov. 5, 2019

Pages: 208

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 4

Christmasy Feeling: 3

Description from Amazon:

As beautiful as it may be, their friends’ country house is not where Lady Vespasia wishes to spend Christmas with her new husband, Victor Narraway. She’d have preferred a relaxing holiday at home with him—especially as Victor, former head of the London Special Branch, seems to be hiding undercover dealings with the other guests who have gathered at the spacious estate.

As tensions grow, the young and beautiful Iris Watson-Watt becomes the center of several men’s focus. Unbeknownst to Vespasia, Iris carries a sensitive package that she must pass to Victor in the hope of unmasking a British traitor. While Victor plots his moves, he is reminded of a similar case from twenty years before, when a young Frenchwoman also carried a clandestine message—one that resulted in her murder, unsolved to this day. Victor has always been tormented by his failure to protect her, and now, with all eyes on Iris, Victor must act fast before history repeats itself.

With the joy of Christmas at risk of being forgotten and Vespasia feeling alone with a distracted husband, Victor must ultimately learn to forgive himself in order to save both his country and the spirit of the holiday.

**
Sometimes the holidays are not so much fun, especially when there are spys and traitors in the mix. This book is a standalone mystery with some characters from previous books by the author. I found that there was some repetitive pages that took me out of the story at times but overall it is a good mystery. Vespasia is a a woman who notices details that others might miss and thus helps with the solving of the mystery. There is a surprise that makes sense but it is still very coincidental. For me this was a comfortable page turner on a chilly night.

You know if there is “Christmas” in a post then those elves will make an appearance.

sexy-santa

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Retro Review-A Christmas Return by Anne Perry

A Christmas Return

Title: A Christmas Return

Genre: Historical Holiday Mystery Novella

Author: Anne Perry

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: Ballentine Books, Nov. 7, 2017

Pages: 179

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Christmasy Feeling: 2

Description from Amazon:

As Charlotte Pitt’s grandmother Mariah Ellison finds herself investigating a long-unsolved slaying, it becomes clear that grappling with intrigue and foul play runs in the family. A festive Christmas package left on Mariah’s doorstep contains an ominous present, sparking memories of a twenty-year-old murder that shattered her friendship with the victim’s widow. Though the gift is a bitter reminder of that tragic time, in the spirit of the season Mariah travels to Surrey in hopes of reconciling with her estranged friend and solving the crime that drove them apart.

On arrival, Mariah joins forces with the murdered man’s grandson, a sleuth in his own right who’s discovered promising evidence as well as a suspect. But Surrey’s picturesque hills conceal dark doings and shocking revelations that could make the holiday anything but calm and bright.

Decked with intrigue and trimmed with Yuletide spirit, A Christmas Return is a holiday treat wrapped in the glorious storytelling talents of the reigning master of Victorian mystery.

**
I must admit that I accepted this book for review when it was first published in 2017 but that year I became very ill and this book slipped through the cracks. Ms. Perry writes a Christmas mystery every year, often with side characters from previous books but they are standalone mysteries.

This is an okay mystery but as a Christmas offering, well…not so much. We pretty much know who the murderer is from the beginning and proving it isn’t much of a task for Mariah and Peter. Why this murder wasn’t solved 20 years before is a mystery to me the reader. Christmas is just a token notion with mentions of a few garlands hung and a Christmas Eve party.

 

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Advance Review- Nothing Ventured by Jeffrey Archer


Nothing Ventured

Title: Nothing Ventured (A William Warwick Novel book #1)

Genre: General fiction/Mystery

Author: Jeffrey Archer

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, Sept. 3, 2019

Pages: 326

Rating: 4.5

Sexy Rating: 5 (behind closed doors)

Violence Rating: 4

Description from Amazon:

Nothing Ventured heralds the start of a brand new series in the style of Jeffrey Archer’s #1 New York Times bestselling Clifton Chronicles: introducing Detective William Warwick. But this is not a detective story, this is a story about the making of a detective . . .
William Warwick has always wanted to be a detective, and decides, much to his father’s dismay, that rather than become a lawyer like his father, Sir Julian Warwick QC, and his sister Grace, he will join London’s Metropolitan Police Force.
After graduating from university, William begins a career that will define his life: from his early months on the beat under the watchful eye of his first mentor, Constable Fred Yates, to his first high-stakes case as a fledgling detective in Scotland Yard’s arts and antiquities squad. Investigating the theft of a priceless Rembrandt painting from the Fitzmolean Museum, he meets Beth Rainsford, a research assistant at the gallery who he falls hopelessly in love with, even as Beth guards a secret of her own that she’s terrified will come to light.
While William follows the trail of the missing masterpiece, he comes up against suave art collector Miles Faulkner and his brilliant lawyer, Booth Watson QC, who are willing to bend the law to breaking point to stay one step ahead of William. Meanwhile, Miles Faulkner’s wife, Christina, befriends William, but whose side is she really on?
This new series introduces William Warwick, a family man and a detective who will battle throughout his career against a powerful criminal nemesis. Through twists, triumph and tragedy, this series will show that William Warwick is destined to become one of Jeffrey Archer’s most enduring legacies.

**
I haven’t read a Jeffrey Archer book since KANE AND ABEL back in the 80’s. My husband is an avid fan of the author and has been encouraging me to read THE CLIFTON CHRONICLES. It’s not that I didn’t want to read Archer’s novels, I just had other books ahead of his on my TBR pile. When this, a new series came along I thought it time that I give in and read a Jeffrey Archer novel.

I’m so glad I did pick this one up. William Warwick’s character is fully realized. We are given a complete background in his wanting to be a detective and his involvement with his family, his early years on the “beat” and his sharp mind that propels him forward in his profession. William is often naïve but he doesn’t let set-backs hold him back, he can take a joke when pranks are played on him. Archer has given us a well rounded human who we can root for. Side characters are many in this book, from involved family members to mentoring superiors to clever criminals and a like minded love interest. I look forward to the next book to see where William goes from here.

I highly recommend this book to readers of all genres. There is something for everyone; action, adventure, mystery, legal court scenes and a love story. You’re gonna like this one.

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Release Day Review- Run Away by Harlan Coben

Run Away

Title: Run Away

Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller

Author: Harlan Coben

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 384

Rating: 5

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

You’ve lost your daughter.

She’s addicted to drugs and to an abusive boyfriend. And she’s made it clear that she doesn’t want to be found.

Then, by chance, you see her playing guitar in Central Park. But she’s not the girl you remember. This woman is living on the edge, frightened, and clearly in trouble.

You don’t stop to think. You approach her, beg her to come home.

She runs.

And you do the only thing a parent can do: you follow her into a dark and dangerous world you never knew existed. Before you know it, both your family and your life are on the line. And in order to protect your daughter from the evils of that world, you must face them head on.
***
Harlan Coben gives us, once again, a well plotted, suspenseful thriller. Simon, a financial analyst, doesn’t know how his life has fallen apart all he knows is that he must save his oldest daughter, but he can’t find her. There is his beautiful wife, Ingrid, a pediatrician and his three children; the two younger kids are on the right path but the oldest went off to college and ended up drowning in drugs. Simon takes many paths to find Paige, most very dangerous. Coben gives us some seeming unrelated events that all coalesce into a heart pounding surprising ending. I highly recommend this book for anyone who loves a can’t-put-it-down read.

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Recent Release Review- Lady Notorious by Theresa Romain

Lady Notorious

Title: Lady Notorious (Royal Rewards book #4)

Genre: Historical Romance

Author: Theresa Romain

Publisher: Zebra, Feb. 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 368

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Cassandra Benton has always survived by her wits and wiles, even working for Bow Street alongside her twin brother. When injury takes him out of commission, Cass must support the family by taking on an intriguing new case: George, Lord Northbrook, believes someone is plotting to kill his father, the Duke of Ardmore. Decades before, the duke was one of ten who formed a wager that would grant a fortune to the last survivor. But someone can’t wait for nature to take its course—and George hopes a seasoned investigator like Cass can find out who.

Cass relishes the chance to spy on the ton, shrewdly disguised as handsome Lord Northbrook’s notorious “cousin.” What she doesn’t expect is her irresistible attraction to her dashing employer, and days of investigation soon turn to passionate nights. But with a killer closing in and her charade as a lady of the ton in danger of collapsing at any moment, Cass has no choice but to put her life—and her heart—in the hands of the last man she ought to trust . . .

***

This book was unique in that we have an Alpha heroine and a Beta Hero. I did enjoy the fact that Cass was so intelligent and capable as a detective but George, Lord Northbrook was just a bit too Beta for my taste. He seemed to be so set on his camera obscura experiments to the ignoring of the task he hired Cass to do. He even took his experiments along on their trip to the seaside. Still the romance was fun with Cass playing the seductress. The mystery was solved (although it was a bit obvious). I do recommend this book for that twist of Alpha and Beta, it is well done.

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Do You Reread Favorite Books?

Do you reread books? I mean, do you keep a book on your shelf and take it down every few months/years to read again? These are usually books that grab us in some indefinable way. They stir our emotions, define our sense of good creative writing or even teach us something new or remind of us what we already know.

I’m not big on rereading the classics. The only literary classic I can recall rereading is Harper Lee’s TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, although there may have been others. My mind is currently all wrapped around what I’ve been book-devouring for the past few years, which are vampires, romance & mystery.
I’m not too involved with rereading non-fiction. Only one book on my shelf is worn from use and that is Sister Wendy Beckett’s THE STORY OF PAINTING. This one gets hauled out when I’m having museum withdrawal.

I have so many books in my To-Be-Read pile that rereads do take a back seat, but some oldies are just too good to not take a breather with now and then.

Here are a few of my favorite rereads, grouped in genres;
Vampires:
Lynsay Sands’ SINGLE WHITE VAMPIRE– after being introduced to the modern take on vampires by reading the TWILIGHT series; I was thrilled to find Sand’s Argeneau vampire series. They were funny, and sexy. This book was the first I read and led me to the entire series where I simply fell in love with this fun loving vampire family. This one is still my favorite of the series.

Single White Vampire
D.B. Reynolds’ RAPHAEL– I have read this book three, maybe 4, times. It is a wonderful combination of THE GODFATHER (or GOODFELLAS) and very sexy, romantic vampires. The entire Vampire’s In America Series is rereadable for me for I love scary vampires who wreak pheromones. Not to discount the fabulous wordsmithing of Reynolds.

Raphael

Lara Adrian’s MIDNIGHT BREED SERIES– Okay, I have not reread all of these yet but I will because this is the penultimate vampire brotherhood ( sorry J.R. Ward fans). In this series there is lots of action and lots of suspense and LOTS of romance. I just need some free read time to start on these again.

Midnight breed series

Romance:
Linda Howard’s KILL AND TELL-(Romantic Suspense) What can I say, this has one of the longest seductions in any book I’ve read. The over the top Alpha male (like most of Howard’s heroes) is so good that the heroine doesn’t realize she’s been seduced until it is wa-a-ay too late. Add to that delight, the steamy description of the wet New Orleans setting and I am transported. And it has a very suspenseful A+ plot.

 

Historical Romance:
Mary Balogh’s A MATTER OF CLASS– talk about delightful!!! This is one of my favorite Historical Romances and probably the shortest book I’ve read. I can’t say more because I would not want to spoil it for you.

Lisa Kleypas’ Suddenly You- Wow! a perfect book boyfriend in Jack. But let me not forget the stunning Wallflower Series, four books of sheer delight. The Hathaway Series is also totally absorbing.

 

Julia Quin’s Bridgerton Series- A fabulous family with each sibling getting a HEA.

The Duke and I

Mysteries:

I have trouble rereading mysteries because on the second read I already know “whodunit”. But I have read some again because I like the author and I am impatient for their next book. Those would be Harlan Cobin, Charlaine Harris’ Aurora Teagarden series, Kathrine Hall’s The Body in The… series.
**
Perhaps if you pick up one of the books I have mentioned you will get hooked on a few rereads too. Or am I preaching to the choir? Do you have favorite rereads? Tell me about them. Have you reread a book that didn’t hold-up to your expectations?

(Parts of this post is reposted from an earlier post.)

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Release Day Review- The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

the golden tresses of the dead

Title: The Golden Tresses of the Dead

Genre: Mystery

Author: Alan Bradley

Publisher: Bantam, Jan. 22, 2019

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 352

Rating: 4

Sexy Rating: 0

Violence Rating: 5

Description from Amazon.com:

Although it is autumn in the small English town of Bishop’s Lacey, the chapel is decked with exotic flowers. Yes, Flavia de Luce’s sister Ophelia is at last getting hitched, like a mule to a wagon. “A church is a wonderful place for a wedding,” muses Flavia, “surrounded as it is by the legions of the dead, whose listening bones bear silent witness to every promise made at the altar.” Flavia is not your normal twelve-year-old girl. An expert in the chemical nature of poisons, she has solved many mysteries, sharpening her considerable detection skills to the point where she had little choice but to turn professional. So Flavia and dependable Dogger, estate gardener and sounding board extraordinaire, set up shop at the once-grand mansion of Buckshaw, eager to serve—not so simple an endeavor with her odious little moon-faced cousin, Undine, constantly underfoot. But Flavia and Dogger persevere. Little does she know that their first case will be extremely close to home, beginning with an unwelcome discovery in Ophelia’s wedding cake: a human finger.

**
Flavia De Luce is at detecting professionally with her partner Dogger. They even have a client who is willing to pay, that is until she turns up dead before their official meeting. Undeterred Dogger and Flavia are going to solve this case even though they have only sketchy information. Undine, Flavia’s younger, orphaned cousin, is another brilliant, precocious child who is a thorn in Flavia’s side and a mischievous imp. Ophelia is now married and sister Daphne is keeping to herself, as usual.

I always enjoy a Flavia mystery. I like that she is rather bloodthirsty and brilliant; she does not disappoint here in this 11th installment in the series. In fact we tend to see glimpses of a more thoughtful, kind and tender Flavia. This book had me a bit confused with the Dogger-Flavia duo solving two mysteries at once. I kept thinking that there would be a stronger connection between the two. But that was probably just me.

I still highly recommend this book and the series if you want to enjoy a truly wonderful, unique character and very intriguing mysteries.

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Advance Review- Not The Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not The Duke's Darling

Title: Not The Duke’s Darling (Greycourt Series Book #1)

Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery

Author: Elizabeth Hoyt

Publisher: Forever, Dec. 18, 2018 (preorder available)

Source: Free for review from the publisher

Pages: 496

Rating: 3

Sexy Rating: 5

Violence Rating: 5
Description from Amazon.com:
Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

**
This book gave me head-scratching moments. I just found myself confused about Freya, Wise Women and the Duke’s blackmailer. Like many readers I don’t like “info dumps”, especially in first books of a new series and I’m sure Ms. Hoyt knows that and avoids it, but we are left in the dark for long periods and I would have welcomed some more information about the mystery of Aurelia’s death and also other issues. Coincidences abound, Freya jumps into the Duke’s carriage while out-running bad guys in London and then they are both at the same house party along with another person from their past.

Even though Ms. Hoyt writes well I can’t give this book more than 3-stars. I will read the next in the series because this is a terrific author and I think future books will be better.

 

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Recent Release Review- A Christmas Revelation by Anne Perry

A Christmas Revelation

Title: A Christmas Revelation: A Novel
Genre: Historical Mystery/ Victorian
Author: Anne Perry
Publisher: Ballentine, November 6, 2018
Source: Free for review from the publisher
Pages: 177
Rating: 4
Sexy Rating: 0
Violence Rating: 5
Christmasy feeling: 4
Description from Amazon.com:
Formerly a river urchin living on the banks of the Thames, nine-year-old Worm has never experienced a family Christmas. But thanks to a job at Hester Monk’s clinic in Portpool Lane, he’s found a makeshift family in kindly volunteer Miss Claudine Burroughs and curmudgeonly old bookkeeper Squeaky Robinson.

When Worm witnesses the abduction of a beautiful woman by a pair of ruffians just days before Christmas, he frantically turns to Squeaky for help. A one-time brothel owner, Squeaky knows the perils of interfering in nasty business, but he can’t bear to disappoint Worm—or leave the boy to attempt a rescue on his own. What neither of the would-be saviors expects, however, is that the damsel in distress already has her dilemma well in hand . . . and is taking steps to bring her captors to justice for crimes far worse than kidnapping. But the rogues, as cunning as they are deadly, are not to be underestimated. The aid of cynical old Squeaky and hopeful young Worm just might make the difference between a merry triumph over evil and a terrible yuletide tragedy.
**
This is a short novel, more a novella. The mystery is a bit thin but the story is heartwarming and at times heart-pounding. Ms. Perry brings to life the Victorian seedy side of London and those decent people as well as ruffians who reside there. I was won over by sweet, nine-year-old Worm and not quite sweet, 60-year-old Squeaky as they do there best to save the beautiful lady (Eloise). Christmas comes into the story as the two also are bringing Christmas décor and festivities to the clinic where they live.

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