What Hides Beneath – a Review

standalone-sunday

Standalone Sunday was started by Bookslayer and you can find more here. It’s for titles that are not part of a series.
35833852I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. 

Title: What Hides Beneath

Author: Julie L. Canfield

Setting: Virginia modern day

Synopsis:

Hidden beneath a lump of clay and dirt is a very rare art work crafted by a Japanese warrior. Two museum curators, who specialize in Asian art say it is valuable but renowned appraiser, Annette Williams claims it is worthless and her words carry weight in the art world. So which is it?
Pete White, an insurance investigator disappears from the museum where he is researching the treasure. Did he uncover its true value or find it’s a fake?
Lieutenant Detective Philip Samyn wonders why he is assigned to investigate a low priority robbery from a museum. Is his boss trying to push him to retire? he never thought his last case would be a missing laptop. That’s not how he envisioned leaving the force.
His investigation proves we never see the complete picture. There is always something hidden beneath.

Review: This book was a lot of fun! I don’t check in with Net Galley regularly, but when I saw this one I thought it sounded like one I would enjoy. I liked the description and the setting in an art museum.

I was right. I did enjoy it. I’ve never read anything by this author, but she does a good job setting the scene and drawing the reader into the action. I liked the characters too.

I do have a couple of complaints though. For one thing, she skips around with POV so that I was not sure who the real main character was. I think it was Alison, the curator who discovers a muddy vase. But you could also say it was Annette the appraiser or even the police officer investigating the case. I guess it doesn’t have to have a MC; it could be several people. But I kept expecting one of them to take over more.

Besides that, I felt there were a few plot holes. It takes a while to really build to where I just couldn’t wait to see what happened next. But it was an easy read and I liked the ending. I recommend this one and I’d like to read more by this author. Now I want to go visit an art museum and look for hidden treasures!

The old opened book is christian Psalter
19st century Psalter. Isolated over white with clipping path
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Australian Police Mystery

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Title: The Dragon Man, DI Challis #1

Author: Garry Disher

Setting: Australia present day

Off the Shelf challenge

Meet Hal Challis, Detective for the Mornington Peninsula police force in Southeast Australia, in the first investigation in this prize-winning crime series

“A serial killer is on the loose in a small coastal town near Melbourne, Australia. Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his team must apprehend him before he strikes again. But first, Challis has to contend with the editor of a local newspaper who undermines his investigation at every turn, and with his wife, who attempts to resurrect their marriage through long-distance phone calls from a sanitarium, where she has been committed for the past eight years for attempted murder—his.”

The police procedural is a name for a type of mystery which is pretty much like the name implies – it centers around a group of police officers and one or more crimes they are trying to solve. Generally there’s one central case and a few others minor ones. Depending on the writer, there’s also some stuff about the officers, about their home lives, their relationships, their backgrounds. It’s like Law & Order or NCIS.

Normally I like police procedurals. I’ve read a lot of them, set throughout the 20th century up until modern ones. My favorite authors tend to be out of print, but there are some writers who are still producing first class books.

This one was not one of them.

I see that it won quite a few awards and has all kinds of blurbs on the back. What can I say? I was not impressed. It wasn’t that I hated all the characters. DI Hal Challis, the MC, is interesting with quite the back story.

It’s just that I got bored. I thought this was about a serial killer, but the writer wound up spending so much time on other crimes, on the personal lives of the police officers, on accusations of police misconduct, that the serial killer case got lost. I think if I had been in a different mood, I might have enjoyed it more.

I did like the setting. I don’t read much Australian fiction, so it was nice to get out of my comfort zone and see what else is out there. So that part did work for me.

Overall, I don’t know if I’d recommend this one or not. Maybe if you want to try a police novel and are looking for an unusual one, you could give it a try. Also, it’s the first in the series, although it doesn’t necessarily read that way, and it’s possible the series gets better as it goes. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could find any more by this author if I wanted to. And I guess that’s OK. I think I’ll just call it quits here and move on. 2.6/5 stars

Trigger Warning: sexual violence

 

 

Humorous Mysteries

23014654If you like a little humor with your mysteries, Donna Andrews has got a series for you. Meg Langslow is a blacksmith whose family has a tendency to get involved in stuff that leads to murder. She has discovered a wide array of murder victims over the years, but she keeps her head and always manages to figure out who done it.

I love funny books, so I took a break from my Off the Shelf challenge this month and read two of Andrews’ latest books, Lord of the Wings and Die Like an Eagle. All of them have birds and bird-related puns in the title.

Lord of the Wings revolves around the mythical town of Caerphilly, Virginia where they’ve begun a new Halloween Festival. Things were going pretty smoothly until someone started a strange scavenger hunt. It started at the zoo and ended in a murder. The next book in the series, Die Like an Eagle, centers around Meg’s twins and their first baseball team. The books are #18 & 19 in the series, but you can start anywhere really and give it a go. My favorite is probably We’ll Always Have Parrots which involves a fan convention. It is just hilarious.  Great reads for curling up with a good book.

10 Series I Just Can’t Wait to Finish

13555073Are you looking for another great series to follow? I’ve got 10 that I have to recommend, along with the first book in each and the author.

  1. Lockwood & Co. The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud. Set in a world where ghosts are common, but only children can see them, the kids at Lockwood & Co start their own business. They quarrel a lot, but they know their jobs. I’m up to #5, which I think is the last one in the series. They’re more MG books than YA, but so much fun that I don’t mind.
  2. Flavia de Luce, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Flavia is a very unusual child. She likes poisons. Like, a lot. Which is good, because she’s able to solve murders. Set in a little English village after WWII, this series is like a warm cup of dark cocoa.
  3. The Reckoners, Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Ten years after the Calamity, the superpowered people called Epics have taken over the world. Regular people are nothing but a resource, but they’re ready to fight back. I’ve only read 1 & 1.5, but the next book is on my birthday wish list.
  4. 8097637 The Legend of Eli Monpress, The Spirit Thief by Rachel Aaron. Eli is a wizard and a thief. He’s also got a plan. He’s always got a plan. This series isn’t finished yet, but it’s been a lot of fun so far, and the first one was free!
  5. Spells, Swords, & Stealth, NPCs by Drew Hayes. This group of friends know they’re only NPCs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be heroes. 3 books in this fun series so far. Also free through Kindle Unlimited.
  6. The Grisha Trilogy, Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. If you haven’t tried this one, what are you waiting for? Amazing fantasy series that I’m just loving. Not as good as Six of Crows, but then, what is?
  7. Amory Ames mysteries, Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver. Amory and her husband have a complicated relationship. She also has a tendency to find dead bodies. Set after WWI, lots of fun.
  8. The Queen’s Thief, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. Stinking amazing fantasy series. 5 stars! I’m currently listening to #2 and I’m dying! Amazing isn’t even good enough. The writing is just so good. I wish I had written it.
  9. Ms. Marvel, No Normal by G. Willow Wilson. I love this series of graphic novels. The art and the story are both great. Even if you’re not normally a superhero fan, give this one a try.
  10. 8629611The Price of Freedom, The Last Kings Amulet by Chris Northern. Loosely based on a Roman/fantasy mashup with a bunch of necromancers thrown in as well. The first one in this series is free as well.

Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen

Title: Murder of a Beauty Shop Queen 👑 🔪💈 (Sheriff Dan Rhodes #19)

Author: Bill Crider

Setting: small town Texas present day

Petty young Lynn was a favorite stylist at the beauty shop, especially with the men. But someone didn’t like her – enough that they got her over the head with her own hair dryer. Is her murder connected to the string of thefts in the county? Or was it her love life? The sheriff needs to catch the killer before someone else dies.

I really like these books. There’s a lot of humor in them, as well as a slice of small town life. As a former Texan, I just really get a kick out of this series. I would start with the first book in the series, Too Late to Die. They’re all pretty quick reads.

My Latest Book Haul

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I got books! As you can see, I’ve also got a cat. Tina saw me take out my phone and had to get in the shot, so here she is.

I have lots of great thrift stores nearby. Usually I try to restrain myself, but this time, I bought all the books.

 

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5 mysteries and one fiction! Strong as Death on top, that’s a historical mystery set during a pilgrimage. Then four mysteries from the same publisher. I’ve read The Lord Mayor of Death and wanted to read that one again. It’s good, very suspenseful. Not sure about the others, but they were worth a dollar!

Fannie Flagg writes HILARIOUS stuff. We read one of her books for book club last year and it was really good.

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Oh, Murder and Chips is set in New Zealand. I never get mysteries set there, so this should be good. Here’s another shot of my helpful cat.

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Thanks, Tina.

The Sans Pareil Mystery

Title: The Sans Pareil Mystery (Detective Lavender #2)

Author: Karen Charlton

“On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.

Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.”

It’s funny how sometimes your books align. I just finished 2 books about Regency England and crime. I already reviewed Newt’s Emerald  (verdict = good)  and now this one. Unlike the first book, this one does not have a fantasy element. It’s strictly mystery, with a little romance.

Let me say that I rated this 7/10, but I’m still looking forward to the next book. The writing could be better – too much telling, too much exposition in parts. I swear the characters must be dumb to have to have things explained to them! But the characters and the world building make these rewarding books. Detective Lavender is not your conventional copper. He is a Bow Street Runner, but he’s also more of a gentleman. Then there’s his lady love, Dona Magdalena, recently escaped from Napoleon’s invasion of Spain. I love her, and she gets a big part in this book. Constable Woods and his family are great too.

I mostly listened to this, but if you get it on Kindle Unlimited, you can switch back and forth between book and audio, which is awesome. The narrator did a really good job with the men, not so hot with the women. I’d recommend this one if you enjoy historical mysteries. But start with the first book, The Heiress of Linn Hagh.

 

Throwback Thursday

This review appeared last year.

Hole in One

by Catherine Aird

mystery

audiobook

Story: The local golf club’s beginners tournament comes to a halt when a competitor discovers a head in the sand trap. Detective CD Sloan has to identify the body, find a killer, and get the tournament moving again so his boss can win that trophy.

Pros: Old-fashioned mystery

Cons: Old-fashioned mystery

I love that this series sticks to the standard detection model of crime-solving – no unrealistically accelerated forensics, no conveniently useful social media, no hidden spycams everywhere. Just interviewing suspects, using some logical deduction. But just as the cops are pretty much 20th century, their attitudes are out of date too. Why are the witnesses repeatedly introduced as “lady golfers?” Why not just golfers? I don’t play golf, so maybe that distinction is still typical of country clubs and private courses. But it was irritating. And what’s with the wives who only join the club so they can keep an eye on their husbands?

I listened to this one yesterday and it was short and enjoyable, but it wasn’t really outstanding. 3.0 stars

Space Mystery!

This book was provided to me for free in exchange for an honest review.
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Title: Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body: A Guerline Scarfe Investigation

Author: Simon Petrie

I’m a big nerd when it comes to space. I don’t know a lot, but I love stories set in space, science fiction stories, and stuff like that. I also love mysteries. When I got asked to review a book that had both, I couldn’t resist.

Guerline Scarfe – what a name – is the equivalent of a police officer sometime in the future. She’s been asked to investigate a suicide. It looks like a pretty straightforward case, but she is a thorough officer and figures that any death deserves an explanation.

Tanja Morgenstein was working on Jupiter’s moon Titan when she pulled off her helmet. Despite the doctors best efforts, she died. Now it’s up to Guerline to figure out why she did it.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the mystery aspect, I liked the characters, and I really enjoyed the setting. It’s a world enough like our own that I could identify with what was going on, but enough different that it was completely fresh. I recommend this one and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series. Apparently Petrie has other books out but none in this series yet, but who knows? 4/5 stars and thanks for the chance to read it.