Encore Review

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I read this one a while back, but I haven’t shared this review before.

Title:

Synopsis:
Lara McClintoch owns a Toronto antiquities store and is obsessed with finding rare artifacts. The murder of an expert in Mayan history brings Lara to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula where mysteries from the Mayan past and Mexico’s present political problems lure Lara on a perilous journey.
Review:
I liked this mystery, but as late as halfway through I was still unclear about the date until it specifically says that it’s set in the 1990s. I think that was because of the prevalent “Had I But Known” vibe that was almost overpowering the book. For those who don’t know, that was a technique common to mysteries in the 1930s by authors like Mary Roberts Rinehart and then the 1980s in Gothic mysteries by Phyllis A. Whitney and E. X. Ferrars. It features lots of foreshadowing, a heroine in trouble, and two romantic rivals. The heroine almost always picks the wrong one right up until the last minute.
Come to think of it, I’ve basically given you the whole plot of the book right there. Lara is recovering from a divorce, heads off to visit a former colleague, and gets caught up in political intrigue and theft. It was still kind of fun, but you have to be in the right mood for it. 2.5 stars
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Don’t Look Back: A Book Review

Don’t Look Back: Konrad Sejer #2

By Karin Fossum

Synopsis:

Meet Inspector Sejer: smart and enigmatic, tough but fair. At the foot of the imposing Kollen Mountain lies a small, idyllic village, where neighbors know neighbors and children play happily in the streets. But when the body of a teenage girl is found by the lake at the mountaintop, the town’s tranquility is shattered forever. Annie was strong, intelligent, and loved by everyone. What went so terribly wrong? Doggedly, yet subtly, Inspector Sejer uncovers layer upon layer of distrust and lies beneath the town’s seemingly perfect façade.

Critically acclaimed across Europe, Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer novels are masterfully constructed, psychologically convincing, and compulsively readable. They evoke a world that is at once profoundly disturbing and terrifyingly familiar.

My thoughts:

I’m a little confused. Goodreads lists this as #2 in the series, but from the synopsis, it sounds like this is the first one in the series. Maybe there’s a prequel that was released earlier or something, I’m not sure.

In any case, the book features detectives Sejer and Skarre looking into the murder of a teenage girl. In this little town, everyone knows each other and everyone loved the dead girl. In fact, no one has anything bad to say about her, so who could want her dead?

I liked this book. I just found it at the library and decided to give it a try. I liked the Norwegian setting a lot. The characters were well drawn and I especially liked the detectives. I would definitely read another book in the series. However, the whole tone of the book was quite sad. I wouldn’t say there was a need for any trigger warnings, but there was definitely some unpleasant stuff sort of hanging in the background.

Sejer’s a widower, but he’s not the sad sack alcoholic detective with tons of baggage. That is far too common in Scandinavian mysteries. Very refreshing, IMO. 3.5 stars out of 5.

 

Murder at the Mill: a review

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Iris Grey needs a quiet place to work on her art and decide what to do about her failing marriage. She finds just what she needs in Mill Cottage, deep in Hampshire and even featuring a picturesque stream nearby. Things are going pretty well until Christmas time. That’s when the neighbors plan a big holiday party that ends with a body being found floating in the previously mentioned stream.

Iris is right in the middle of events. She was present at the holiday party and has been drawn deep into the neighbors secrets. Now she has to figure out what’s going on before she dies too.

I liked this mystery, but from the description I was imagining a 1930s style house party with servants and sleuths and all. However, this is set in present day. The overall feel of the book is quite different as well. I think the description was rather misleading. I did enjoy this story and I quite like Iris. However the mystery wasn’t all that hard to solve and I’m not sure I would feel compelled to read another in this series.

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.*

Limelight: a review

Limelight by Emily Organ (Penny Green #1)

Synopsis

How did an actress die twice?

London, 1883. Actress Lizzie Dixie drowned in the River Thames, so how was she murdered five years later in Highgate Cemetery?

Intrepid Fleet Street reporter Penny Green was a friend of Lizzie’s and Scotland Yard needs her help. Does Penny unwittingly hold clues to Lizzie’s mysterious death? Penny must work with Inspector James Blakely to investigate the worlds of theatre, showmen and politicians in search of the truth.

But who is following her? And who is sending her threatening letters?

Penny is about to discover that Lizzie’s life was more complicated, and dangerous, than she could ever have imagined.

Review

I finished this one yesterday and found myself trying to figure out how I felt about the book. I mean, I didn’t HATE it, but I didn’t like it either. Penny, our MC, has an interesting back story, but I still thought her actions didn’t make a lot of sense.

In the end, I think it was just that writing was pretty – well, average. We only got to really know 2 characters in the book, and they were still a little flat. The pacing was off, all the action occurs in the beginning and the very end. There was a lot of telling, a lot of dialogue, but not much to hint at what characters were actually feeling.

I do enjoy this time period, and I admit to being intrigued by the female reporter angle. But really, there are better Victorian era mysteries out there. I would not recommend this one and I don’t plan on reading more by this author. However, it is a first novel, so it’s possible the series gets better as it goes on. I won’t be bothered to find out.

Burning Ridge – a review

Burning Ridge, Timber Creek K9 #4

By Margaret Mizushima

Mattie Cobb is a police detective with a K9 partner working on a small town in Colorado. Her latest case turns out to have a very personal connection and her past will hold the answers she needs to solve the crime.

This is the 4th book in the series, but I didn’t feel lost for long. I really liked Maggie’s relationship with her dog, Robo. That was the best part of the book. I would definitely read more in this series.

Murder on the Appian Way

Murder on the Appian Way (Roma Sub Rosa #5) by Stephen Saylor

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I love a good historical fiction, and if there’s mystery or romance in there too, I am even more interested. This book is about Gordianus the Finder, neighbor of the orator Cicero, who becomes entangled in the hunt for a murderer.

Even in Rome, maybe especially in Rome, politicians did not get along. But this feud may have actually caused a murder. Soon each side is fighting in the streets and then actual riots break out. Gordian goes back to the scene of the crime to see if he can figure out who’s really guilty.

I loved the setting on this. The story is based on actual events, and it’s full of details, such as the local shrine of the Good Goddess, Hestia  I think, and the courtroom drama. It felt like I was really there.

The one thing I wasn’t crazy about was Gordianus. He comes a little too close to cheating on his wife for me to see him as a really good guy. But I did like the series enough to see if I can find the first book in the series. I like the audio version, but I think print would be fine too.

Back from vacation!

My trip was great! Of course, I was worn out when we got back, and I had a lot of catching up to do. But I’ve been away from my blog for too long so I wanted to share a couple of reviews with you.

I didn’t get as much reading in this week, but I do have 2 books I DNFd.

The first was a debut mystery, Turnstone by Graham Hurley. Based on Portsmouth, England, the book description said it was about a missing man. But after reading to a while, there was no indication of that case and I had found five typos. Not interesting enough to continue.

Then I found Zero Limit, which sounded like a cross between Artemis and Armageddon. Unfortunately, I guessed the disaster and who would die first long before it happened. The idea sounded good, but the writing wasn’t up to it.

I got both of these from Kindle Unlimited, so maybe it’s just a case of you get what you pay for. Luckily, I had a fun Net Galley book up next. I’ll get to that review later.

 

Anatomy of Evil: a review

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Title: Anatomy of Evil (Barkder and Llewellyn, book 7)

Author: Will Thomas

There’s an unwritten rule that any Victorian crime series must have a Jack the Ripper episode. The Cyrus Barker detective series is no exception. Robert Anderson, New head of Scotland Yard, asks for his help in tracking down the Whitechapel killer. It’s 1888 and all of London is terrified. The killer seems to be targeting prostitutes, but there’s a sense that he’s lurking out there with a knife and no one is safe.

Barker and his assistant Thomas Llewellyn take temporary jobs at Scotland Yard. At first, they try to get to know the area. They travel the streets on foot, night after night. They get to know the bars, the factory workers, the alleys, until they are thoroughly at home. Then they set about finding a killer.

I enjoyed this book, and I liked the characters as much as I did in previous books. We get a glimpse into the royal family in this one, which was good. I listened to it, and the narration really added to my enjoyment of the book. In the end, though, there was something lacking. I’m not sure what it was, but it just wasn’t my favorite. Still, I really like this series and I’m looking forward to the next book.

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.