Murder

Book Review: What Happened in Vienna, Jack? by Daniel Kemp

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Why This Book

I’m beginning to read more from a few publishers that publish other books I’ve enjoyed, and this author is under contract with one of those companies, Creativia. What Happened in Vienna, Jack? by Daniel Kemp fell into my lap while it was on sale via Amazon last month, so I allotted it to February and made it a current read this week. I always look forward to clever and complex thriller and suspense fiction, and this one hit the spot. Kudos to the author!

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Approach & Style

I read this ~350 page book via Kindle Reader on my iPad over four days and six hours. It is a British period piece focusing on a few decades in the mid-twentieth century involving a spy, military, police, murder, intrigue and war. And that’s just the beginning! The language is very intricate and detailed. The story hops through the past and the present. It focuses on a few different critical characters you get to know little by little — or all at once! But my favorite part is how it offers up a true British nostalgia and ambiance.

Key Thoughts

Espionage and murder… could it get any better when it comes to solving a mystery? Author Kemp provides all the suspense and thrills in this very descriptive story. Main detective Patrick is very charismatic in an offbeat way, but he will also stand out as a highly intelligent and trustworthy confidante you enjoy sharing the read with. He’s not quite the narrator, but you get that feel from how the book is written.

I appreciate the skills necessary to weave together this type of tale. When you have multiple decades and secrets to track, it could be easily confusing. But it’s not. There are many twists and turns, surprising reveals, and eye-squinting characters who make you wonder… ‘what’s going on here?’ — but soon enough you start pulling the past together. Then the ending portion kicks in… and you’re back to guessing all over again!

I enjoyed this read. It’s partially in my typical reading choices, but it’s more of a spy novel that I’m used to… think a bit James Bond like. I am more a horror thrillers chasing serial killers or historical fiction type of reader. But this bring some elements from both and offers a good tale with a what feels like a realistic setting. I’m sure the author’s career helped played a big role in developing this story. Add in the various facts / stories we all know about World War II and how the ‘underground network’ works, then you’ve got a strong read.

Summary

I’m impressed with the author’s ability to weave a highly complex plot over multiple time periods and characters, in particular how well written the language in the story is. I recently learned it’s part of a book series, where two are already written and a third is on the way in the future. Very exciting for any true British crime fan!

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: Gingerbread Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I received Gingerbread Cookie Murder, a short novella in the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series by Joanne Fluke, as one of my Christmas presents last year. I’ve a big fan of the series and always look forward to the read. It took me 1 hour to read this story, part of a larger paperback focused on murders involving gingerbread cookies. It’s ~150 pages, but 1/3 is filled with recipes, so it’s just under a hundred pages of true text. In this issue, Hannah is having trouble with her new neighbor who plays loud Christmas music all the time. But she soon finds him dead in the refrigerator after trying to store her recent baked goods for a future dessert. Add in an $8M winning lottery ticket, someone’s divorce, a new dentist in town, and a suitor for Hannah’s mother, then you’ve got lots going on in this one. It was a fun afternoon read and I look forward to the next book in the series.

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Sea, Sky and Skeleton by Carolyn L. Dean

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I started reading Carolyn L. Dean‘s cozy mystery series over two years ago, but I hadn’t been able to get back to it for a long time. After the holidays, I bought the next five books and committed to read one per month in 2018 until I caught up. I’m finally back to reading them and picked up with Sea, Sky & Skeleton, the fourth book, this week. It was like a nice welcome home reminding me what I’d missed. I enjoy Dean’s easy writing style, colorful characters, and clever settings.

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I read the Kindle version in my iPad in about 90 minutes, as it’s only ~150 pages. Amanda runs a B&B, but it’s in need of repairs. She finds cash on the beach, then a dead body. Given she still hasn’t gotten the friendliest of welcomes from all the townspeople, she keeps trying to win them over. She’s almost there. I look forward to the day they name her mayor.

I enjoyed the plot of the story and the development of the characters. It comes together nicely in the end with a cute little bow, too. My only concern is that two scenes were rushed relatively quickly, and while they helped draw out the killer, I would have loved another 30 pages of background and setting to help round it out to a perfect read. Minor item tho… as I still enjoy the dialogue and rapport between Mrs. Granger, Jennifer, and Amanda. I’m also very intrigued by her boyfriend’s family… so many siblings, something has to happen in the future.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Apple Turnover Murder by Joanne Fluke

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I’m a committed Joanne Fluke & Hannah Swensen fan. I love the cozy mystery and these novels just have such a calming and positive effect on me. I’m giving 3.5 stars to Apple Turnover Murder, the 13th in this series. It was good and hit all the right spots, but left room for growth and more complexity. With 20+ books in the series, I can’t give them all a 5, and even a 4 is sometimes too high. It doesn’t mean I don’t adore them. I just think it wasn’t one of the top ones in the series. I like re-visiting all the characters and seeing the wonderful relationships between Hannah, her sisters, and her mothers. And I was even excited that there’s quite an interesting turn-of-events in Hannah’s relationships with her two suitors, Mike and Norman. Perhaps it’s finally moving in the right direction. That said… not enough time was spent exploring the possible culprits or the depth of the victim who was murdered. I think there was more history to be told… I’ve already got books 14 and 15 from the series in my queue, and I was awarded the most current (22?) on NetGalley, so I have to catch up soon!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Savannah Sleuth by Alan Chaput

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Why This Book 
I belong to a cozy mystery reader group that offers ARCs of upcoming books through a giveaway contest. I won Alan Chaput‘s book, Savannah Sleuth, the first in his Vigilantes for Justice series from Falcon Press, published in early 2018.

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Approach & Style 
I read the paperback version of this 271-page novel in 4 hours over 3 days. It is told with a third-person point-of-view and via a perspective focused primarily on the main character, Patricia (Patsy); however, ~20% of the chapters focus on other characters so that readers know what’s going on behind the scenes even though Patsy is unaware what has happened.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
The novel takes place in Savannah, Georgia with a trip to Paris, France for a few chapters. It focuses on super-rich Patricia (Patsy) Falcon, her mother, her husband their daughter, friends and enemies. Patsy’s mother dies under mysterious circumstances, prompting Patsy and her friends to search for the killer… but here’s where this story takes a different arc. Her husband is part of a coalition to protect Savannah, so he’s secretly investigating the death as well but she doesn’t know it. As Patsy and her friends begin finding leads, more people keep dying or having accidents. Throw in some family issues with their daughter, side-stories involving the church, a homeless man who is searching for a parent, philanthropic efforts among the different friends in Patsy’s group, affairs, and a very high-tech security detail… and you’ve got a lot of things to try and connect across the chapters.

Key Thoughts 
Savannah as a backdrop is a wonderful setting. I’ve not been to the city but will be going later this year at the end of summer. I can’t wait to see how well reality compares to the descriptions in this novel. It was highly engrossing, completely beautiful, and impressive in terms of how well integrated into the story. I felt like I was there while reading the book.

The vigilante concept is quite intriguing when you consider the vigilantes are the super-rich who run the city. Between the gun-toting society ladies, the friendly welcome and assistance of homeless, and openness about how they need to murder bad people in order to protect the town, I found myself constantly surprised at what people said and did.

A few parts made me turn my head and scratch the back of my scalp… only because it just didn’t seem like a specific action could really happen the way it did, but it felt like maybe that was the point of the story. Once I just let my concerns go, falling into the complexity and depth of the story, I loved it. I felt the same way about the ending in terms of leaving too many things unsolved; however, it’s clear those will be addressed in book two. Had some of these been a bit stronger or more fleshed out, I would have given this a cozy mystery a 5-star rating.

Chaput has a great platform and baseline to tell many stories in this series. The characters are rich with interesting personalities; I often couldn’t tell who to trust and who to fear… it’s a lot of grey and very little black and white. That was one of my favorite parts.

Summary 
I’m very excited about this new mystery series. It’s a solid 4+ star rating and may have been higher if a few loose threads were tied together before the end. It’s a little darker than a typical cozy, but in a good way. I like how there’s a lot going on in the stories, especially the side plots and secondary characters. I will definitely be reading the next one which is coming out very soon.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Blood Sister by Kenna McKinnon

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Why This Book 
I’d heard a few good things about Blood Sister by author Kenna McKinnon from some fellow readers and decided to take a chance on it. It was published in 2015 by Creativia and has a very unique set of characters and multiple voices (you’ll get this joke later on)… let’s get on to the review.

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Plot, Characters & Setting 
Set in contemporary Canada, this quirky novel tells the story of two vicious murders of the town mayor and doctor in Serendipity. While the police lead the investigation, they’ve called in a consultant private-eye who has a unique relationship with the detectives working on the case. She’s a schizophrenic who still hears voices and is currently on a stress leave while she re-adjusts to new medication levels. As if that’s not enough of a reason to draw you in, Annie is married to another interesting fellow, Samir, a Sudanese man who has a few issues of his own to deal with, but they may just be trying to pull the wool over their guardian’s eyes… as they’re barely in their early 20s and not quite ready to be on their own based on a few crimes they too committed in the past. Add in a sexy new detective named Mark Snow who just happens to have the same initials as the possible murderer and you’ve got yourself quite a corker to figure out!

Approach & Style 
I read this 294-page mystery and suspense novel over ~4 hours on my iPad via Kindle Reader. It’s broken into ~90 chapters which means each one is relatively short around 3 to 4 pages. While it could be difficult to tell who’s talking, given all the personalities sometimes taking control of Annie, author McKinnon has kindly italicized those moments so readers are quick to follow along. The story is told in third-person POV with a perspective focusing on the main character, Annie, and her adventures not only in solving the crime, but deciding how to handle her relationship with Samir and feelings for Mark.

Key Thoughts 
Let’s focus on the mystery first. Two dead people always make a story more complicated. Was it a single murderer, a serial killer with more victims in his/her plan, or just two very unrelated incidents. Lots of red herrings and different motives, both real and faked, help move this plot along nicely.

You’ll either love or hate the characters. They are portrayed quite well, so it’ll really come down to your ability to see through the quirks and nuances versus the games they seem to be playing with each other and within poor Annie’s mind. I’m in awe of how the author kept this all in line!

There are a lot of side-stories going on which help keep readers interested in all the action and characters. Between birds and cats, foreigners and natives, old historic beliefs and medical approaches, the novel seems to have a bit of everything. It’s a lot to keep track of, but imagine what that’s like for Annie who has to try to assemble all the clues while her schizophrenia idles up and down depending on her adjustment to the medicine.

Throw in a bit of romance, some Canadian humor, and the potential for some fun and silliness, you’ve got yourself quite a unique read. If you’re looking for something different and logical in its own right, this would be a great choice to push your reading comforts. The best part is following Annie’s mind and voice throughout the story. She’s got a lot of charm and intelligence, and you never quite know what she might say out loud unintentionally. I know a few people like that!

Summary 
This was a unique book and I don’t think I expected it to be what it turned out to be — but that’s certainly not a bad thing either! It has all the drama, mystery and suspense you’d expect in this type of novel, but it gives you a very different setting and tone as part of the ride. I like when books throw me for a loop, especially when you need to re-orient how you think in order to align your reading style. Kudos to the author for finding great formatting, approaches and character descriptions to help make everything pop on the page.

 

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke

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The 12th book in the Hannah Swensen cozy mystery series, Plum Pudding Murder, published in 2009 and written by Joanne Fluke, gets 3.5 stars. I’m skipping my normal detailed and formatted review, as you can only say so many new and different things about similar-type books. That said, I enjoyed this edition and would recommend it to existing fans and potentially new ones.

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In this escapade, Hannah continues baking up a storm while preparing for the Christmas holidays. When the owner of a local tree nursery and shop is murdered, she solves the case by enlisting her mother, sisters and friends in all sorts of hi-jinks. She outsmarts her on again / off again cop boyfriend Mike, and continues flirting with her other boy, dentist Norman. Throw in about 25 recipes, and you’ve got a cute and fun cozy book to enjoy. Not to mention the big surprise at the end when the college guy who broke her heart shows up in town!

The murder is good, the story has a strong cast of suspects and the characters provide comic relief. It should have been 15% more story and less recipe, only to give us the necessary substance. The plots also need to start sooner; the murder didn’t happen until 50% through the book! While we got to know the cast in the first half, which gave us potential red herrings and culprits, I wanted to be a bit more invested at that point.

I adore Hannah, want her as my best friend and would love to live in this town. I’d eat cookies all day, but that’s what I do… so there you have it, folks… 🙂

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.
Follow my blog with Bloglovin.