Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness – a review

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Title: Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness 🐓

Author: David Casarett

Meet Ladarat Patalung – the first and only nurse detective in Thailand. 
Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband into the emergency room of the Sriphat Hospital in Thailand, where he passed away. A guard thinks she remembers her coming in before, but with a different husband – one who also died.

Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer-if there is one — loose in her hospital. Then again, she never expected to be a detective in the first place.

And now, Ladarat has no choice but to investigate…

The first novel in a captivating new series by David Casarett, M.D.

Ladarat at works at a large hospital in the tourist town of Chiang Mai, Thailand. She is  a nurse ethicist, which means she helps with tough decisions that doctors and patients make every day. She enjoys her job, but when a friend who is a police officer asks for her help investigating a sudden death at the hospital.

A woman arrived at the emergency room with her dead husband and her marriage certificate, asking if she could get a death certificate. Very odd, she thinks. Even more mysterious when she discovers that the same woman had visited the hospital a few years earlier, with a different dead husband, one with the very same name. The police think it was murder, and that in fact, the woman might be a serial killer. Ladarat isn’t sure she’s cut out to be a detective, but surely finding a killer is an ethical thing to do? Meanwhile, she’s also helping the family of a dying tourist and preparing for a coming inspection by the health department.

I really enjoyed this book. The setting was so refreshing. I found myself drawn deeply into the world of the busy tourist destination. Then the hospital was a great place for the story too – so much human drama. The writer is always comparing the  Thai and American culture.

My one concern – I would have enjoyed this book more of it were an Own Voices book. This was written by an American doctor, so it’s no wonder that he got the hospital part right. But I really wondered how accurate the whole Thai setting was.  In the end though I liked it enough that I would probably read another book by the same author.

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A Lack of Temperance – a review

A Lack of Temperance by Anna Loan-Wilsey

Hattie Davish arrives at her new job as a secretary to an older woman. But whe she get there, she finds that her employer is missing and she’s right in the middle of a storm over temperance. Her employer is the president of a large protest organization and they’re hosting a rally that week. But her new boss turns up dead and the police haven’t got much to go on. Hattie better figure out what’s going on before she become a victim herself.

I liked this series debut. The setting, Arkansas in the late 19th century, was well done. I liked the resort town. It’s certainly one that’s not overdone, so I hope that the writer keeps the books in the same area. But I wasn’t as crazy about the main character as I was about the setting. I felt that she was a little inconsistent and times and not especially likeable. Still, she might grow on me.

Overall, recommended. I received this book for review from LT Early Reviewers program.

These Honored Dead – a review

These Honored Dead by Jonathan Putnam, book 1 in the Lincoln and Speed series

Set in Illinois during the time Lincoln worked as a private lawyer before his marriage.

Joshua Speed, the enterprising second son of a wealthy plantation owner, has struck off on his own. But before long, he makes a surprising and crucial new acquaintance–a freshly minted lawyer by the name of Abraham Lincoln.

When an orphaned girl from a neighboring town is found murdered and suspicion falls on her aunt, Speed makes it his mission to clear her good name. Of course, he’ll need the legal expertise of his unusual new friend. Together, Lincoln and Speed fight to bring justice to their small town. But as more bodies are discovered and the investigation starts to come apart at the seams, there’s one question on everyone’s lips: does Lincoln have what it takes to crack his first murder case?

Inspired by actual events from the American frontier, Jonathan Putnam’s thrilling debut These Honored Dead brings renewed verve and vigor to the historical mystery genre that readers haven’t seen since Caleb Carr’s The Alienist.

————–

So much of this was freaking amazing. I have so much to say I don’t really know where to start.

I guess I’ll start with the audio. I listened to this one and I have to give the reader a solid 5 stars. There were so many different voices in this one. The freed Black man, the Kentucky gentleman, Abraham Lincoln with his well-known high pitched voice, the poor house keeper, the Illinois sheriff – such a range but all of them sounding distinct and authentic.

Several of the other reviewers complained that there was either not enough Lincoln or any at all, objecting to his presence in a historical fiction. I liked it. They should have read the book description.

For the rest, I really enjoyed this book. I thought the premise was great. The story itself was good. But it was the setting that made it exceptional. So many issues packed in here. I loved the accent for the Kentucky gentleman, that’s just a very pleasing sound. But then I’d hear what he was actually saying. He just couldn’t understand what the problem was with The Peculiar Institution i.e. slavery. He was reluctant to use the real word and called his slave a Bondswoman. Just the way he spoke for her, treated her like – well, like property. That wasn’t even the main subject of the book, but it still dominated things, what with the looming threat of the coming war.

I would recommend this one. I already added the second book to my TBR list.

Bosch: A Review

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Have you watched this Amazon show? I only saw the first episode, but since I mentioned it in a blog post recently, I thought I would rerun my review of the first book in the series by Michael Connolly.

The Black Echo by Michael Connolly

This may be the only time I can remember that I am giving a book 5 stars, but I’m not planning to read anymore in the series.

It’s not the main character. I really liked Harry Bosch. Maybe he’s a bit cliched, but I found him a likable sort of loner with a messed up past. A crummy childhood, combined with some serious PTSD from the Vietnam war, has left him unable to trust anyone. It’s a good thing, really, because with just a couple of exceptions, everyone in this book is exclusively working for himself.

When the body of a fellow Tunnel Rat, a guy from Harry’s old army unit, is found apparently dead of an overdose, Harry feels like he owes his old buddy more than the cursory glance the rest of the police force wants to give the case. Add to that some guilt Harry feels about letting his old buddy down, and he’s just not about to let things drop. So when his investigation leads to a connection with a major bank heist that the FBI is still investigating, he starts asking questions. A lot of questions. And now he’s being followed by two guys from Internal Affairs who can’t wait to shut him down.

This all sounds pretty good, so what am I complaining about? It’s just the general feel of the book. It’s unrelentingly pessimistic – life stinks, you can’t trust anyone (and Harry can’t), everyone is hiding something, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending for anyone. It’s Harry against The World. And I’m just not going to read more of that. My own life is complicated enough; I don’t want to read somethings this dark when it’s supposed to be reading for fun. So I guess I’m saying that it’s a good book; it’s just not the right book for me.

Top 10 Tuesday!

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Characters I liked That Were In Non-Favorite/Disliked Books

This is my first time joining in the fun here, but I needed a good topic today and I figured there was no time like the present to start with this one.

This was a hard one. Normally if I don’t like the characters, I don’t like the book. So the reverse is kind of true also. If I like the characters, I generally like the book.

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One – Detective Harry Bosch – The Black Echo by Michael Connolly. Connolly did a great job creating a MC that was complex, dark, with a compelling back story. The book however, was too dark for me to really enjoy. If you like the dark detective types, then I would recommend it.

Two and Three- Tommy and Tuppence – Postern of Fate by Agatha Christie. This was a case for me of where a good author writes a really bad book. Tommy and Tuppence, a team of married detectives, are now much older and have slowed down. But I don’t think that was the reason I didn’t like the book. There was just no plot. So disappointing, because I loved the previous books.

Four – Mr. March – March by Geraldine Brooks. In this retelling of the classic story Little Women, Reverend March is away with the Union troops during Civil War. It’s a great premise for a story. Unfortunately, I really didn’t like the book. The author throws in a love triangle for no apparent reason, besides changing the familiar characters into people I didn’t like.

Five – Ozma The Wicked Will Rise by Danielle Paige. Oh, this series. It had so much potential. But the writer was problematic, the second book let me down so hard, and the whole thing became such a mess. Such a shame. It could have been great.

Six – Sherlock Holmes – A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is where it all began, but it really wasn’t such a great book. It’s got some major plot holes, some serious pacing issues, but the characters became icons.

Seven and Eight – Mrs. Jeffries and Inspector Gerald Witherspoon in Mrs. Jeffries Stalks the Hunter by Emily Brightwell. This is sort of an obscure series, but I remember being so disappointed by the end of the series. She took characters I’d come to love and just stuck them in this lame book.

Nine – Don Quixote in the same book by Miguel de Cervantes. It was actually BECAUSE I liked the character so much that I lost patience with this book. Every single other character treats him like crap, but it’s OK, because he’s crazy. Listen, I have so many issues with this book, I could go on for hours. But I’ll stop there.

Ten – Mary Russell in Mary Russell’s War by Laurie R. King. Another case of a bad book by a good author. It’s a collection of short stories that all should have been left in the bin. Stick to the novels in this case.

 

Murder Among the Pines

Murder Among the Pines by John Lawrence Reynolds

I got this one from Early Reviewers for free in exchange for an honest but fair review. My opinion remains my own.

Police chief Max Benson is busy enough with the summer visitors to her sleepy Canadian town, but when her ex-husband becomes the chief suspect in a murder investigation, she might have to clear up her schedule. This was a very quick read. The ending was not really a surprise, but if you like mysteries, I think you’d like this. Perfect for beginning readers. It is the third in the series, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.

The Manual of Detection – a Review

The Manual of Detection by Jedediah Berry

Found at the library

In this tightly plotted yet mind-expanding debut novel, an unlikely detective, armed only with an umbrella and a singular handbook, must untangle a string of crimes committed in and through people’s dreams

I’m not really sure how to describe this one. It starts when lowly clerk Charles Unwin finds himself unexpectedly promoted to detective but given no cases. Instead he decides to solve a disappearance, but he has no clues.

I’m the one hand he just sort of bubbles through the investigation, but on the other events unravel in such unpredictable ways that I never knew where this story was going. I couldn’t even figure out what it was about for a really long time. I am sure though that whatever it was I just read, it was truly original and I’m glad I read it.

You can find a better synopsis, but I would avoid them. If this description appeals, just give it 50 pages and then decide if you like it. I’ll be interested to see what this author does next.

Deadly Engagement – a Review

 

Deadly Engagement by Lucinda Brant (Alec Halsey #1)

Synopsis: An eighteenth century historical mystery. Diplomat and amateur sleuth Alec Halsey becomes embroiled in countryhouse murder and mayhem. He must confront past demons in his love life and a cruel twist of fate that reveals why his brother now loathes him. If you love Sebastian St. Cyr novels by CS Harris and Julian Kestrel novels by Kate Ross then you’ll love Deadly Engagement.

My Thoughts:

When I opened this ebook, it was billed as a ‘crimance.’ Call me a word snob, but if I had seen that in the description, I never would have bothered reading it. What the heck is a crimance? But I can’t really hold that against the author because I don’t know who chose that word. It could have been her, but it could have been the editor, some PR person, or a random publishing exec. In any case, it’s such a horrible word!

But let’s put that aside and talk about the story. Alec arrives back in England after being posted in Paris. He goes to visit the woman he loves only to find that she is recently betrothed to his brother. And his former lover is there to witness his humiliation. Trying to forget his love, Alec learns that friend is dead from a duel, again with Alec’s brother, Edward. That guy is bad news. And he hates Alec.

Intrigue and romance all around, followed by a murder and attempted rape. I enjoyed the story and the setting, but the love angle wasn’t as convincing as it should have been. Still, I would read more by this author.

Review: Madame Koska

This book was received in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. My opinions, however, remain my own. Thanks for the chance to read this book!

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I love the style of this cover!

Title: Madame Koska and the Imperial Brooch

Author: Ilil Arbel

Setting: London, about 1920

Synopsis:

Meet Madame Koska—a fabulous haute couture designer and the owner of a new atelier in 1920’s London who has a knack at solving crimes that simply baffle the police.

When a priceless brooch disappears from a museum in Russia, Madame Koska is suddenly drawn into the mystery. But who is Madame Koska? And what does the missing jewel have to do with her? Find out in her first adventure!
 

My Review: After arriving in London, Madame Koska opens a fabulous new fashion house, catering to the many wealthy women who crave that European sophistication. Meanwhile, everyone is talking about the new Russian emigres and the rumor that a stolen brooch belonging to the late Empress has surfaced in the London underground.

This was a light, almost frothy novel with an interesting main character and what sounding like some fabulous clothing! Madame Koska has arrived in London and plans to take the fashion world by storm. Her resilient spirit made me root for her. I also loved the look at the old school fashion world, the culture of the Russian emigres and the challenges they faced. It was such a quick and fun book. The mystery was quite light, and rather unbelievable, but honestly, I still enjoyed the book so much I didn’t really notice the lack of actual mystery. I would have loved some art sketches of the clothing and jewels the author described!

This is apparently based on a character in the 20th century novelist’s Angela Thirkell’s books. I’ve never read anything by her, but it didn’t really affect my enjoyment of the book. I am curious enough about her books though that I added one to my TBR list. Apparently she is typical of many period writers about stereotypes based on races and religion, so I am a little hesitant about that, but still kind of curious.

Including a picture of some of the Russian imperial jewels just so you can drool!

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Review: The Lost Spy

36264356 I was give a copy of this book by the writer in exchange for an honest review. My opinions remain my own.

Title: The Lost Spy, Slim Moran #1

Author: Kate Moira Ryan

Synopsis:

It is Paris, 1949. 27-year-old American detective and heiress, Slim Moran, is hired by a British spymistress to find Marie-Claire, a spy long presumed dead. Slim soon realizes that scores from the last war have not been settled. She races to find out what happened to this deeply troubled lost spy because if Marie-Claire is not dead, she will be soon.

My review:

World War II is over. Slim Moran isn’t ready to return to the US or to England. She’s happy to stay with her lover in Paris, and opens an agency to find displaced persons. She hasn’t had many cases when she is contacted by someone from the SOE looking for a missing radio operator, believed to be captured and killed by the Nazis. But there’s just a possibility that she might be alive. Will Slim be able to get to the truth of what happened to Marie-Claire?

I wasn’t really crazy about this book. It started off with an interesting premise, a good strong setting, but then I got turned off by the number of times people would just sit around and talk and Slim would do nothing at all to verify their stories, to press them, to look for clues. There was a whole lot of nothing happening. I feel like maybe that’s not fair, but something about the actual detection part of mystery just didn’t work. There were too many times Slim just accepted things at face value.

The tangled relationships made it difficult to care about these characters as well. I liked the introduction of Edith Piaf as a performer and Marlene Dietrich – little touches like that really helped with the setting. But it honestly wasn’t enough to save the book for me. I would say if you are interested in the setting, to give it a try. It might also be that it’s just suffering from first book blues.

Thanks for the chance to read this one.