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.

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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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Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Pexels.com

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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Photo by Matej on Pexels.com

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.

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.